Looks like sleep meds might do the job just a little too well: A new study finds that they might help you achieve the Big Sleep.
That's the one that lasts forever.
And those aren't the only drugs linked to an early grave, because the same study also found an increased death risk with anxiety drugs.
Researchers tracked 14,000 Canadians across the age spectrum--from 18 years old all the way up to 102. The subjects were questioned every two years about their drug habits, health, booze and tobacco use, demographics and lifestyle.
After 12 years, the researchers found that 15.7 percent of those who had reported taking a sleep or anxiety med at least once a month had died... versus just 10.5 percent of those who didn't take the drugs.
What's more, even after adjusting for lifestyle, health and demographics, the researchers found that those who took the meds were 36 percent more likely to die during the study period.
And if you're older, pay a little extra attention to this one: The researchers also found that the highest risk hit those between the ages of 55 and 74 years old, according to the study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.
Since the backbone of this study was a survey, the results didn't exactly emerge from the kind of placebo-controlled clinical trial needed to make a clear connection between these meds and death risk.
But the numbers are pretty hard to ignore--and when you consider all the other well-established risks and side effects of sleep and anxiety meds, there's simply no reason to take them.
In fact, the very side effects that make these drugs a bad choice in the first place could be responsible for some of those early funerals. The researchers say the most common of them--decreased alertness, coordination problems and slower reaction times--could lead to fatal accidents and other problems.
And those aren't even the worst--or most fatal--of the side effects.
Patients who suffer from anxiety, for example, are often given epilepsy meds--drugs that have been linked to suicidal behavior. Sleep meds have their own problems-- including some pretty bizarre side effects such as hallucinations, delusions, abnormal behavior and even more suicidal thoughts.
Put it all together, and they don't add up to better rest or less anxiety--just more risk you don't need.
Especially when you consider all the safe, natural options available for getting a good night's sleep.