The People's Perspective on Medicine

Sleep Aids Linked to Broken Hips

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.

[JAMA Internal Medicine, online, March 4, 2013]

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.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
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Tips for beating insomnia: foods to avoid, foods that help, herbal remedies, sleeping pills. Newly revised (November 2016), our online guide (too long to print) includes drugs that may cause insomnia. Learn about the latest medication, Belsomra.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
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I took Lunesta to help me sleep. After about a week, I developed severe heartburn. The heartburn woke me in the night, so the drug was not effective for good sleeping. Until I determined the cause of the heartburn, I was seriously thinking I should see a gastroenderologist.
I have sleep apnea. With a bipap machine, I sleep about 4 hours a night. The sleep neurologist gave me the Lunesta prescription to lengthen the time of sleep.

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