Sleep and anxiety meds increase dementia risk

Millions of people swear by drugs to help them get to sleep each night, while millions more rely on medications to ease their anxiety to get through the day.

Some people take both, leading to a 24-hour cycle of dependence with tragic consequences -- side effects up to and including death. And now, new research confirms that regular use of these meds is linked to dementia.

Researchers compared about 100 French seniors who took benzodiazepines and similar drugs to 1,000 who did not. Over 15 years, the ones who took the drugs had a 60 percent higher risk of dementia -- and that's even after adjusting for the usual variety of risk factors, according to the study in BMJ.

What makes this even more disturbing is that the drugs they tracked are practically household names -- including Ambien, Halcion, Klonopin, Restoril, Valium, and Xanax.

These types of meds were never meant for long-term use. The problem, of course, is that people who turn to them for a short-term problem with sleep or stress, for example, end up relying on them day after day (or night after night), and year after year.

You probably know some people who are practically hooked on these drugs, even if they don't walk around advertising it.

If there's a bright side to this, it's that dementia caused by medication can sometimes be completely reversed by getting off those drugs and onto safe, natural alternatives.

But sometimes, it's too late -- and that's why the better plan of action is to not take the drugs in the first place.

If you're on these drugs now and looking for a way off -- or simply want a little help with conditions such as sleep or stress -- speak to a holistic physician who can help you find the safest natural options.