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Sleeping pills associated with hip fracture early on

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July 7th, 2017
A senior man in bed looking at an alarm clock with pills and a glass of water on his nightstand.
Taking measures to improve sleep hygiene may make it possible for you to avoid sleeping medicines.

Whether it’s due to pain, medications, or having to visit the bathroom frequently, you’ve probably experienced insomnia as you age. For some people, sleeping pills can be a safe and effective short-term option.

But a new study from Cardiff University and King’s College London has found that starting sleeping medication can be hazardous to your health. The researchers found that people over age 65 prescribed certain sleeping medicines may be at higher risk of hip fracture than people who don’t use them. 

The two classes of drugs that were responsible for increased fracture risk were benzodiazapines (diazepam) and what are called “Z-drugs,” which include zolpidem (Ambien), zopiclone (Imovane), and eszopiclone (Lunesta). These types of drugs have side effects such as daytime drowsiness, impaired balance, and slower reaction times.  

The researchers found that people using these drugs had two and a half times the risk of fracture than people who don’t take them. During the first two weeks to one month of use, fracture risk was 53%. Longer-term users had a 20% increase in fracture risk.

Other ways to improve sleep 

Taking measures to improve sleep hygiene may make it possible for you to avoid sleeping medicines. This includes keeping the room temperature cool; developing a pre-slumber routine; avoiding large meals, alcohol, and caffeine within three hours of bedtime; and getting plenty of daytime exercise. 

Regardless of whether you take sleeping medicine, make your home safer by removing loose rugs, installing nightlights, eliminating clutter, and clearing a path from your bedroom to your bathroom.

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