Sleeping pills should be prescribed only with caution to older people. A case-crossover study of more than 15,000 nursing home residents in the US found that those taking “Z-drugs” as sleep aids were 66% more likely to suffer a broken hip during the 18 months of the study.
Z-drugs are the popular sleeping pills zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta) and zaleplon (Sonata). Older people with cognitive impairment were especially vulnerable to this complication. The investigators recommend greater caution in prescribing sleep medications to nursing home residents.
You will find information on the pros and cons of these and other sleep aids in our Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. Non-drug approaches to defeating insomnia are also discussed.