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Monday, December 29, 2014

Prolonged use of some sleeping pills may raise Alzheimer’s risk

Insomnia is a beast that leaves you feeling miserable and affects every part of your life.

It's no wonder, then, that people who suffer from insomnia will try nearly anything to get a good night of rest. Exercising more, counting sheep, sleeping pills, reducing caffeine intake, fancy pillows and mattresses … if you're a bonafide insomniac, you've probably tried it all.

But in the desperate bid for precious ZZZZs, there's something important to know about sleeping pills. New research has found a link between taking some commonly used sleeping pills for a few months to a greater risk of Alzheimer's disease.

The drug in question is benzodiazepine [ben-zoh-dahy-az-uh-peen] (Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, etc), which is used in numerous commonly prescribed sleeping pills and also in some anti-anxiety medications.

Researchers from France and Canada studied the medical history of nearly 9,000 people age 66 or older in Quebec. About 2,000 participants had Alzheimer's disease.

The data showed people who had taken benzodiazepine medications for at least 91 days straight had a significantly higher rate of Alzheimer's disease … about 50 percent higher to be exact. Participants' risks of Alzheimer's grew even more if they took the drug for longer.

Even when the researchers adjusted for conditions such as depression, insomnia and anxiety, which can indicate the early stages of Alzheimer's, benzodiazepine users still showed higher rates of the disease.

No matter how badly you want some shuteye, that's a risk insomnia sufferers should take seriously.

Still, more investigation of the possible link between benzodiazepine and Alzheimer's disease is needed.

If you are seeking insomnia relief and want to avoid the drug, talk to your doctor about alternatives. Or, start with the website of the National Sleep Foundation for tips on habits to cultivate and avoid in pursuit of good sleep

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