Reducing the dosage of prescribed sleeping pills may be the answer to helping people with chronic insomnia find relief. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania say that as little as half of the drugs may be enough to treat the sleep disorder, as well as including placebos in treatment plans.
Published in the journal Sleep Medicine, the findings would impact an estimated 9 million Americas who depend on prescription sleeping pills for their snooze. This new approach would also reduce side effects and cut prescription costs by 50%, while helping people maximize their potential in falling asleep and staying asleep.
“The clinical effects of sleeping pills cannot be relied on to last forever, and long-term use increases risk of psychological dependence and side effects including daytime drowsiness, nausea, and muscle pain,” said senior study author Dr. Michael Perlis.
A total of 74 adults with chronic insomnia were treated with 10 mg of the common sleeping medication zolpidem (Ambien) for 4 weeks. Those who responded to the drug were then randomly placed into 3 dosing groups: a dosage of 10 or 5 mg nightly, 10 mg 3 to 5 days a week, or with half of their pills containing 10 mg of the drug and the other half a placebo.
Overall, the research team found maintaining the benefits of falling asleep and staying asleep, can be done with less medication, with the group taking 10 mg 3 to 5 days a week experiencing the worse results. More medical symptoms, poor sleep and greater severity of insomnia was reported by the participants in their group.
As other research has identified a link between dementia and sleeping pill use, approaching medication with caution is wise choice to protect your health.
Ask your doctor about both short-term and long-term effects of any medications you are prescribed, and don’t be afraid to give cognitive behavioral therapy a try. The drug-free treatment for insomnia has been shown to have positive, long-term effects for the restorative rest we all need to be our best.