For those who are obese, taking as little as 18 sleeping pills per year can increase the markers for premature death up to five times the national average, compared to people taking Ambien or Lunesta but not overweight.
“Obese patients appear particularly vulnerable, perhaps through interaction with sleep apnea,” said study co-author Daniel Kripke, a psychiatrist with Scripps Clinic’s Viterbi Family Sleep Center in San Diego.
“The associations between sleeping pills and increased mortality were present, and relatively stronger, even in people aged 18 to 54,” said Dr. Langer, a family physician and epidemiologist with the Jackson Hole Center for Preventive Medicine in Jackson, Wyo.
“Obesity emerged as a marker of increased vulnerability,” said Robert Langer, M.D., M.P.H., at the annual American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention | Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions in San Diego.
And the risk appears to be higher for men.
Men who ingested sleeping pills like Ambien or Lunesta were nearly twice as likely to die as women, after accounting for other co- factors.
These new findings were the latest to emerge from a Scripps Clinic-led study of almost 40,000 patients, which was initially published in late February in the open-access online journal BMJ Open.
The biggest challenge, however is the withdrawal problems associated with taking sleeping pills. One of the major side effects of these medications is politely called “rebound insomnia”. Depending upon the duration and dosage, rebound insomnia equates to little to no sleep for between 4 and 12 days. This puts massive strain an already taxed heart and cardiovascular system. Sadly after several nights of little to no sleep, most insomnia sufferers give up and continue taking the medications, sometimes for years.
Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback has gained ground as the first-line treatment for helping people successfully ween off of sleeping pills. Two sensors are placed on patients scalp, and the brainwaves responsible for the potential origination of the insomnia are detected. The really interesting thing about neurofeedback is that it can retrain the patients brainwaves and normalized their sleep architecture very quickly, and without the use of medications whatsoever.
The other considerable challenge for obese insomniacs is that the brain hormones responsible for feeling hungry and full go haywire when sleep is abnormal. This means that loosing weight is all but impossible until healthy sleep is reestablished.
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