Last Updated: Feb 03, 2023

The findings of a new study have revealed that prescription sleeping pills might significantly shoot up the risk of dementia.  Health experts who have been involved in the study have said that people who have admitted that they are taking prescription sleeping pills often or almost every day have been found to be at 80 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with dementia as compared to those people who have said that they never or rarely take prescription sleeping pills. However, these findings only apply to white people and experts say that it hints at other lifestyle and socioeconomic influences as well as play a crucial role in increasing the risk of this cognitive disorder. They have said that for an instance, there is a possibility that insomnia might be a contributing factor to cognitive deterioration. Researchers who have put together the study have only observed the effect of prescription sleeping pills such as Ambien. Over-the-counter drugs such as melatonin have not been included in the study. However, experts have said that there is a growing body of evidence that shows melatonin as well leads to cognitive issues when consumed over a long period. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has predicted that about a fifth of adults in the United States might be having medication to fall or stay asleep which turns out to be around 40 million people. Other than that, multiple studies have shown that the people in the US workforce are frequently under-slept, and around one out of three working-class people do not get the advised minimum of seven hours of sleep a night. As per the CDC guidelines, sleeping fewer than seven hours a night is linked to an elevated risk of being diagnosed with chronic issues such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

A team of experts from the University of California, San Francisco enrolled almost 3068 people in their latest study. They followed them for an average of nine years. Over 20 percent of participants had developed dementia by the time the study was completed. Experts found that prescription sleeping pills were more common in white participants than in black participants, who made up nearly 58 percent of the enrolled participants. Research has shown that those who take prescription sleeping pills regularly or almost every day are at a higher risk of developing dementia. Participants of color in the study who could afford prescription sleeping pills may be kept in a group with a higher socioeconomic status and a greater cognitive reserve. This makes them less susceptible to dementia. According to Dr. Yue Leng, a neuroscientist at the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences (UCSF), these differences in risk may be due to socioeconomic status. According to the study, certain sleeping pills have a higher risk of developing dementia than others. Participants were asked when they ingested sleeping pills and which brand. Participants had the option of answering multiple questions, such as ‘Never’ which means that they only took sleeping pills once a month, Rarely’ which is twice a month, — ‘Sometimes’ which is between two and four times per year, ‘Often’ which is approximately five to fifteen times per months, — or ‘Almost Always’ which is almost 16 to 30 times each month. Participants in the study stated that they consumed a variety of prescribed drugs for insomnia, along with benzodiazepines like Restoril, Halcion, Dalmane, and Halcion. Participants claimed that they were taking trazodone (an antidepressant), and Z-drugs like Ambien or Lunesta.

The majority of sleep supports come with a series of side effects, and some of them can be mild such as dizziness and long drowsiness. However, a routine of taking benzodiazepines and sleeping pills such as Ambien can lead to dependence or addiction. The findings of the latest study have been released in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. This is not the first study that has found a link between sleeping pills and an elevated risk of dementia.  A study put together by a team of experts from the University of Eastern Finland in 2018 discovered that patients who were consuming benzodiazepines or Z-drugs were at a 6 percent elevated risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A team of health experts from France and Canada identified an association between benzodiazepines and Alzheimer’s, which is the most common form of dementia in 2014. The author of this study claimed that consuming a benzodiazepine for at least three to six months shot up the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease by 32 percent, and people who had been taking it for more than six months were at an 84 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Leng advised that people should begin with a sleep test and cognitive behavioral remedy to improve their sleep rather than taking a sleeping pill.



Devoted my whole life to words - reading, writing and trying to be original on social media. Got certified in digital marketing - still not cool enough to be an influencer. Finished a master’s degree focused in Literature, Publishing, Mass Media. Hobbies include traveling, reading and hoping that yoga will be the thing to finally teach me some patience. Would like to take over the world at some point, but that’s an optional dream. Maybe modern tech can help me do that?