Doctors have warned that the use of sleeping pills could be linked to an increased risk of death.  This could impact thousands of people who rely on a variety of sleeping pills to help get a good night’s sleep.

The study was produced by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in America, comparing over ten thousand users of sleeping pills against twenty three thousand non-users.  The study concluded that those using sleeping pills had a risk of death four times higher than the rest.  Researchers have stated however that it is not clear why those taking sleeping tablets may be at greater risk than non-users.

Deaths may be caused through falls and accidents due to the sedating nature of the pills as well as altering a person’s breathing pattern as they sleep – something that has been linked to increased suicide risk.  Those of the sample relying on a greater quantity of sleeping aids also appeared to have a greater risk of developing cancer.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency says it will consider the results of this latest study and access whether it has any impact on current prescribing guidelines.

The researchers believe that the ‘meagre’ benefits of sleeping aids are far outweighed by the substantial risks identified.  It should be noted that sleeping pills should only be used for short periods of time due to developing a tolerance to the drug as well as running the risk of becoming dependent on the medication.

It has been suggested that those taking sleeping medication should not panic and stop taking their medication and if worried, should consult with their GP about any fears they may have.  It is not yet clear that the deaths were caused by the medicine and further studies need to be conducted before full conclusions can be drawn.

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