Prescription sleep meds tied to huge jump in ER trips

Stress, worry, changing work schedules and other things keep us awake when we’d like to be sleeping.

We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. But occasionally stress, worry, changing work schedules and other things keep us awake when we’d like to be sleeping. Additionally, sleep problems increase as we age; studies show that one in three people say their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep is not what it used to be. Many times we reach for over-the-counter sleep aids like Tylenol PM. These are generally OK as long as we don’t take too much too often, which can lead to liver damage.

For some people, however, their sleep problems become a nightmare, and they turn to a primary care physician for prescription sleep aids like Ambien and Edluar. Unfortunately, a new study has found that the number of emergency department visits related to these prescription sleep medications has gone through the roof. From 2005 to 2010, adverse reactions to zolpidem — the active ingredient in sleep aids such as Ambien — have increased 220 percent. Zolpidem is FDA approved and has been safely used by millions, but adverse reactions have increased.

Most of the people who end up in the emergency department for treatment are women age 45 and older. The authors of the study recommend that use of these drugs for short-term treatment of insomnia should be carefully monitored. For more information about this study on prescription sleep medications, go to:

If you or someone you know has trouble with insomnia, the Norton Sleep Centers can help. With two locations staffed by specially trained pulmonologists and sleep technicians, the centers offer diagnosis of and treatment for a variety of sleep disorders. For more information, go to:

–Jackie Hays


(502) 629-1234

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