Study Says Dementia Risk With Sleeping Pills: Seniors At Risk
A recent study suggests that individuals over the age of 65 who have taken certain sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs may face a higher risk of developing dementia within 15 years than those who have never taken the pills.
According to a 2010 study in the Canadian Pharmacists Journal, it is estimated that between 22 per cent and 27 per cent of Canadians over the age of 65 use the drugs called Benzodiazepines regularly, a rate that rises to more than 30 per cent among those over age 85.
All of the drugs within the Benzodiazepines category are only meant to be taken for up to six weeks to treat insomnia and for no more than two months to treat anxiety, according to Health Canada.
The startling chronic use is what is raising public health concern. Many patients are using these drugs well beyond the suggested timeframe for use. Researchers from the University of Bordeaux have stated that the data theyve accumulated suggests that the use of benzodiazepines is associated with increased risk of dementia. Given this, the chronic overuse and consumption of these drugs is a cause for public concern. Further research needs to be done in this area to discourage the prolonged use of these drugs.
These drugs do remain effective in treating anxiety and insomnia, but also alternatives should be looked at where the risks of dementia may become an event greater concern.
What Should Someone Who Cannot Sleep Do To Protect Their Brain Health
If limited sleep may cause dementia and taking sleep medications could increase dementia risk, what should someone who has difficulty sleeping do if they want to protect their brain health?
Dr. Chad Yucus, a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem, said he would not recommend using sleep aids like Tylenol PM or Benadryl because they may cause increased confusion.
Similarly, Doxepin, an antidepressant, has been shown to improve sleep quality in some studies, while others have reported drowsiness and weight gain as side effects, which have both been found to increase dementia risk.
Seroquel is often used to treat conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder and severe depression. While some studies have found Seroquel may improve sleep quality, reported side effects actually include difficulty sleeping, as well as weight gain, which is often linked to an increased dementia risk. Seroquel is an antipsychotic drug and researchers found some safety concerns about using it to treat insomnia. Instead, they suggest it should be prescribed for more serious conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The side effects of some sleep drugs may become even more pronounced in dementia patients, depending on the severity of their condition.
The Trouble With Sleeping Pills:
Can sleeping pills do more harm than good? Watch this this provocative and informative video exploring the new class of improved sleeping pills. According to recent research by Daniel Kripke, M.D., professor of psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, sleeping pills may increase depression and lead to a higher incidence of certain diseases. Sleeping pills may actually shorten peoples lives. Series: SIRA
- Sleeping pills only help people fall asleep about 11 or 13 minutes sooner
- Sleeping people forget about trouble falling asleep
- Higher risk of harm
- more adverse effects than placebo
The nature of the link between sleeping pill use and dementia is unclear. Perhaps Benzodiazepine has a side effect which causes an increase likelihood of developing dementia or perhaps it is the other way around. Perhaps people with a higher risk of developing dementia are more likely to suffer from insomnia?
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Dementia Risk Linked To Sleeping Pill Use
If you have trouble sleeping at night, know that you arent alone. Older adults have sleep disturbances and sometimes use sleeping pills to get better rest. Although this may be acceptable as an occasional strategy, scientists have linked the regular use of this kind of medication to dementia.
Well explore the connection between sleep medications and dementia, including how they affect your risk of developing Alzheimers disease. Plus, well also share tips on how to get a better nights rest without medication.
Where Did The Story Come From
The study was carried out by researchers from Université Bordeaux Segalen and other institutions in France, and Brigham and Womens Hospital, Boston, USA. The research received financial support from several sources, including the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale and Université Bordeaux Segalen.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal.
The study was reported accurately by the media and many newspapers should be praised for highlighting the other health risks associated with long-term use of benzodiazepines.
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Frequent Sleeping Pill Use Linked To Increased Dementia Risk
LOS ANGELES Frequent use of sleep medications may increase the risk of future cognitive impairment, new research suggests.
Investigators Yue Leng, PhD, and Kristine Yaffe, MD, University of California, San Francisco, found that older adults who reported taking sleep medications often were more than 40% more likely to develop dementia over 15 years than their peers who rarely, or never, took sleeping pills.
“While we don’t know the exact mechanism underlying this association, we hope this research will raise caution among clinicians when prescribing sleep medications to those at high risk for dementia,” said Leng.
She reported the results during a press briefing here at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2019.
Why These Drugs Have A Stronger Effect In Older People
As we age, our ability to process medication changes. The kidneys and liver clear drugs more slowly, so drug levels in the blood remain higher for a longer time. People also gain fat and lose muscle mass over time. Both these changes affect the way drugs are distributed to and broken down in body tissues. And because these drugs are stored in body fat, they can continue to produce effects days after people stop taking them, especially in people with a higher proportion of body fat. In addition, older people tend to take more prescription and over-the-counter medications, each of which has the potential to suppress or enhance the effects of the others.
Sleeping Better Without Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills may not be all they are cracked up to be. In fact, according to some sleep studies, they may help you sleep just 8 to 20 minutes quicker than if you didnt pop the pills. Overall, they may help you just get an extra 35 minutes of sleep on nights you take them.18 So what you need to ask yourself is if the pills are really necessary. And if not, what are your other options?
Here are simple, all-natural tips to help you sleep better.19
- Set a bedtime routine and stick with it. A warm bath, some soothing music, or a good book and a room with dim light can all lead up to a good nights sleep.
- Banish your gadgets and focus on relaxing your mind. A book or some soft music are better alternatives.
- Dont eat too much close to bedtime.
- Skip caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the hours leading up to bedtime. Ideally, avoid any of these for at least 56 hours before you need to sleep.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you learn habits, including calming techniques, that enable you to sleep better.20
Could Memory Loss Be Drug
Have you ever worried about whether a medicine you have used will have lasting consequences? Baby boomers are starting to fret about forgetfulness. They fear that some medications may be undermining their ability to stay sharp into older age.
There is increasing recognition that medications with anticholinergic activity may pose a problem . These are drugs that interfere with the activity of the crucial neurochemical acetylcholine. This compound is essential for nerve function and memory.
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Memory Loss From Anticholinergic Drugs:
We have frequently written about the downside of anticholinergic drugs. Not long ago, we received a letter from a man who heeded our warnings and became quite concerned.
A while back I heard a broadcast on The Peoples Pharmacy syndicated radio program that discussed a medical study linking long-term use of diphenhydramine to early onset of memory loss and dementia. Apparently this study showed these and other drugs affect acetylcholine activity in the brain and this is linked to memory.
I was horrified because I had been taking diphenhydramine as a sleep aid for well over 10 years. I was guilty of buying into the classic myth that if a product is sold over the counter, it must be safe. This left me in a state of panic wondering what my future would hold. Is memory loss now a guarantee?
I started taking the medications during my graduate studies back in the mid-2000s. I am 52 years old with no history of dementia in my family. I run three or four miles every other day and try to keep in good shape. My wife and I eat healthy, sticking to a Mediterranean diet as much as possible.
Is there anything that can be done to reverse course if any damage has been done? I am very concerned about the damage I may have done and have become quite anxious about the future. If these studies are confirmed, Im shocked how much space these pills are still getting at the pharmacies. If there really is a huge risk here, why arent more people talking about it?
How To Get Regular Sleep
To get regular sleep without the use of medications, NSF says it can help to limit naps and cut back on caffeine consumption. Additional tips to improve sleeping patterns include:
- Using low-watt bulbs at night to naturally encourage melatonin.
- Turning off your computer and television at least an hour before bedtime.
- Avoiding reading from a device thats backlit.
- Keeping your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark.
- Wearing a sleep mask and using earplugs or a sound machine can help.
- Maintaining regular sleep patterns, going to bed and waking at consistent times, even on the weekends.
- Enjoying a bath, playing relaxing music or practicing deep breathing or meditation just before bedtime.
If you have concerns about your ability to get regular sleep, consult your doctor and share specifics about sleep problems youre experiencing.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Sleeping Pills
Like most medications, sleeping pills have side effects. You won’t know, though, whether you will have side effects with a particular sleeping pill until you try it.
Your doctor may be able to tell you about some side effects if you have asthma or other health conditions. Sleeping pills can interfere with normal breathing and can be dangerous in people who have certain chronic lung problems such as asthma , emphysema, or forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
Common side effects of prescription sleeping pills such as Ambien, Halcion, Lunesta, Rozerem, and Sonata include:
- Burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs
- Changes in appetite
- Unusual dreams
It’s important to be aware of possible sleeping pill side effects so you can stop the drug and call your doctor immediately to avoid a more serious health problem.
Two Common Classes Of Drugs Have Been Linked To Dementia Fortunately There Are Alternatives To Both
If you’re worried about developing dementia, you’ve probably memorized the list of things you should do to minimize your riskeating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and keeping your mind and soul engaged. In addition, some of the drugs you may be taking to help you accomplish those things could increase your risk of dementia. In two separate large population studies, both benzodiazepines and anticholinergics were associated with an increased risk of dementia in people who used them for longer than a few months. In both cases, the effect increased with the dose of the drug and the duration of use.
These findings didn’t come entirely as a surprise to doctors who treat older people. The Beer’s List published by the American Geriatrics Society has long recognized benzodiazepines, antihistamines, and tricyclic antidepressants as potentially inappropriate for older adults, given their side effects. Such drugs are on the list because they share troubling side effectsconfusion, clouded thinking, and memory lapsesthat can lead to falls, fractures, and auto accidents.
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Can Some Sleep Medications Raise The Risk Of Alzheimers Disease
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs used to treat short-term insomnia, anxiety, and sometimes epilepsy. Although clinical guidelines recommend against the long-term use of benzodiazepines, particularly in elderly people with a greater risk of side effects, chronic benzodiazepine use is common in older populations.
A new study in the British Medical Journal reported that people who had used benzodiazepines for more than three months had almost a 50 percent higher risk of Alzheimers disease over the following six years, an association that has been reported previously. Short-term use of benzodiazepines did not raise the risk for Alzheimers but, beyond that point, with longer use came greater risk. The associated risk was observed even in people who had previously used a benzodiazepine for at least six months but had stopped using it at least a year before their diagnosis of dementia.
It is not completely clear if the risk comes from benzodiazepines or from the health conditions for which benzodiazepines are regularly prescribed. Both anxiety and sleep disorders are potential risk factors for dementia. The scientists leading this study did attempt to control for these risk factors and still observed an increased risk from benzodiazepine use. Scientists do not yet know why benzodiazepines might accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
The benzodiazepine medications evaluated in the study were:
What Sleep Disorders Are Common In People With Dementia
People with dementia are frequently affected by sleep disorders. The following sleep disorders are found most often in older adults, but they are seen at even higher rates in people with dementia.
- Restless legs syndrome : RLS is characterized by an overwhelming desire to move the legs, especially at night. RLS is common in people with a type of dementia called Lewy body dementia.
- Periodic limb movement disorder : PLMD causes uncontrollable movements of the arms and/or legs at night. Many patients with PLMD also have RLS.
- Obstructive sleep apnea : OSA is a condition marked by nighttime airway collapse leading to brief lapses in breathing. OSA is particularly common with Alzheimers disease, occurring in 40% of patients. Having OSA also increases ones risk of developing dementia.
- REM sleep behavior disorder: REM sleep behavior disorder causes individuals to act out their dreams, sometimes in dangerous ways. It is most often found in individuals with Lewy body dementia and is sometimes the first symptom that arises with this type of dementia.
- Depression: Although depression is a mood disorder, it is associated with insomnia and other sleep disturbances. Depression is common in people with dementia, and it is seen at increasing rates as dementia progresses to more severe stages.
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How Does Sleep Affect Dementia Risk
Experts suggest that sleep and dementia may share a bidirectional relationship. This means that while sleep could affect dementia risk and symptoms, the presence or absence of dementia also affects sleep quality. For example, one of the first Alzheimers disease symptoms in the brain is the accumulation of a protein called amyloid-beta, which eventually forms clumps called amyloid plaques. Animal studies and a small study in people have shown sleep deprivation to increase the levels of amyloid-beta in the brain. At the same time, Alzheimers patients with amyloid plaques have been shown to have worse sleep quality than Alzheimers patients who do not have amyloid plaques.
Additionally, sleep is known to be critical for our cognitive functioning and memory formation. Observational studies have shown that sleep issues are associated with cognitive decline and dementia. However, these studies do not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. Although more research is needed to better understand sleep and dementia risk, there are many proven steps you can take to improve your sleep.
Ambien Side Effects On Memory And Behavior
Ambien, or zolpidem, is a commonly prescribed medication that is used as a sleeping pill to treat insomnia. There are a handful of common side effects, but how can Ambien affect your memory and cause amnesia? Is there a risk of long-term memory problems like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? Does it lead to sleepwalking or sleep eating episodes? What are the other common side effects of Ambien use? How might this work? Discover some of the side effects associated with Ambien use and alternatives that might help to avoid these problems.
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How Does Dementia Change Sleep Patterns
Circadian rhythm is a collection of physical and psychological processes that guide our sleep-wake cycle by responding to indicators in our environment. People with dementia experience fundamental changes in their circadian rhythm that work against getting quality sleep on a regular schedule.
The suprachiasmatic nucleus is the part of the brain that serves as our internal clock and responds to cues, such as light, to indicate when we should be alert and when we should feel sleepy. Individuals who have Alzheimers diseasethe most common type of dementiaoften have damaged cells in the SCN and decreased cellular activity in this part of the brain. The result of this dysfunction is that patients are often unable to follow a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle and instead sleep excessively during the day and sleep much less at night.
Additionally, dementia is associated with changes in sleep structure. When we sleep, our bodies cycle through a series of sleep stages, from light sleep , to deep sleep , and then dream sleep . Slow-wave sleep and REM sleep are critical parts of how sleep works to restore the body and mind. People with dementia spend less time in slow-wave sleep and REM sleep and more time in the earlier stages of sleep. This reduction of deep sleep and REM sleep can worsen as dementia progresses.