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50% of a sleeping pill’s effectiveness doesn’t come from the sleeping pill

Ah, sleeping pills - how we love to hate you.

The fact is, for some of us, they are absolutely necessary - over the short-term.

That being said, a new study suggests that as much as half of the effect that comes from taking a sleeping pill doesn't actually come from the sleeping pill itself.

Instead, half of the benefit is all in your mind - a classic example of the placebo effect at work.

In this latest study, researchers examined 13 studies that involved over 4,000 individuals.

Hypnotic medications such as zolpidem were the most popular of all the sleeping pills being taken.

Researchers found that although 'Z drugs' (eszopiclone, zaleplon, and zolpidem) did help patients fall asleep a little faster and sleep for a little longer, they were only slightly more effective than a placebo.

In fact, they argue that as much as 50% of a patient's response to a Z drug is down to the placebo response.

When you consider this fact against the list of side-effects that come with these drugs:

  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Dependency
  • Higher mortality

It's quite clear why I always prefer to see alternative insomnia remedies take precedent over sleeping pills.

Source: British Medical Journal

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Last updated: April 17, 2013

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

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