Millions of Americans suffer from sleeping difficulties that keep them from attaining the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. In fact, things have gotten so bad, the federal government has identified insufficient sleep as a public health epidemic.
This growing problem has led to a boom in demand for prescription sleep drugs, which offer sedation effects that make it easier to fall and stay asleep. That said, new research suggests that many of these medications may not be much more effective than ordinary sugar pills.
The Placebo Effect
The majority of sleeping pills owe much of their benefits to placebo effects, according to a collaborative study conducted by researchers from the University of Connecticut, Harvard University and the University of Lincoln in the U.K.
After analyzing clinical trials that studied Sonata, Lunesta and Ambien; researchers concluded that, although the drugs did offer more benefits than placebos, the effects were small. In fact, they found that sleeping pills hastened sleep by only 20 minutes when compared to placebo pills.
Ultimately, the researchers say this study should be a factor in determining whether or not prescription sleep aids are worth the risk when it comes to treating insomnia. Experts warn that the potential for addiction and side-effects may warrant alternative treatments, such as cognitive therapy, which often proves more effective in the long-term.
What it Means for Sleep Apneics
Ultimately, neither sleep aids nor cognitive therapy are able to cure obstructive sleep apnea. Because this dangerous disorder causes breathing disruptions, it promotes sleep disturbances that lead to frequent waking. Your body tries to wake you so that you resume breathing. If you take sleep aids, your body will have a harder time rousing you, and you can slowly suffocate yourself. Sleep aids do nothing to correct the airway obstruction that happens in obstructive sleep apnea.
If you suffer from OSA, you need a treatment that will stop the breathing problems that keep you awake at night. A sleep apnea oral appliance can do just that by adjusting the jaw to promote clear, unobstructed breathing.