Why Sleeping Pills Are Considered the Number 1 Most Dangerous Drug?

Oct 13 2015 - 12:49pm

Sleeping pills - (zolpidem (e.g., Ambien), temazepam (e.g., Restoril), eszopiclone (e.g., Lunesta), zaleplon (e.g., Sonata), other benzodiazepines such as triazolam (e.g., Halcion) and flurazepam (e.g., Dalmane), barbiturates, and sedative antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (e.g., Benadryl).

Sleeping pill risks

Addiction to sleeping pills is another major concern. “All prescription hypnotics (with the exception of Ramelteon and the new drug Silenor) may be physically addicting drugs, and all are sometimes attractive to drug addicts. By addicting, we mean that these drugs have two properties. First, when we take addicting drug such as narcotics or barbiturates, we develop tolerance so that a given dosage has less and less effect or “stops working.” People who develop tolerance are prone to increase their dosage more and more. I frequently see this problem with long-term users of sleeping pills. Second, addicting drugs cause physical withdrawal symptoms when they are stopped abruptly. The withdrawal symptoms of hypnotics such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines are very well known.[5] They include shakiness and tremor, nervousness and anxiety, panic, hyperactivity and increased reflexes, rapid heart rate, and epileptic seizures and death in the most severe cases. In one sense, the withdrawal syndrome with hypnotics can be worse than withdrawal from heroin, because while the heroin addict experiences withdrawal as a terrible anguish, it is rare that addicts do not survive even the most severe heroin withdrawal. Severe withdrawal of sleeping pills can produce death. The risk of seizures and death is probably more severe with withdrawal of barbiturates than with benzodiazepines. On the other hand, zolpidem (Ambien) seems less prone to cause withdrawal symptoms than the barbiturates or benzodiazepines. As compared to heroin, the withdrawal syndrome may be more lasting with the hypnotics, perhaps more than a month in some cases, though too little controlled experimentation has been done to be really sure.”


In recent years there have been several incidences of amnesia and bizarre behavior reported in people using sleeping pills. Recently in Houston, Texas a woman was found sleeping in her car in the drive thru at a McDonald’s. The last thing she remembered was taking a sleeping pill. I have a friend who woke up 60 miles from home in her car, not knowing how she got there; the night before she had taken Ambien. Other more serious cases have been reported in those taking sleeping pills, including a case in which a man murdered his sister yet had no memory of doing so. There have been so many other cases that the phrase ‘Ambien defense’ has been coined and defendants are sometimes called ‘Ambien zombies’.

Concomitant use of sleeping pills with other drugs or alcohol increases the effects and should be taken into consideration when using or prescribing as they have a synergistic effect and an increased risk of death. So, while it may seem innocent enough to take a prescription drug for sleep, there are many serious side effects that should be thoughtfully considered.

What are alternatives to prescription sleeping pills?
James F. Balch, M.D., author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, writes, “A lack of the nutrients calcium and magnesium will cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep.” [6]

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that insomnia tends to increase with age and affects about 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men.

Magnesium has been called “nature’s muscle relaxant.” It calms the central nervous system and acts as a sedative. Magnesium actually suppresses nerve activity, which leads to a decrease in muscle twitches and jerks, therefore decreasing incidents of night waking. [7]

For these reasons, healthy levels of magnesium have been linked to deep, undisturbed sleep. Calcium is also directly related to our cycles of sleep, according to Medical News Today. They recommend that a balanced ratio of calcium and magnesium is important to overall health, and these two minerals should be taken together for best results.

Low levels of magnesium can contribute to frequent nighttime waking. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to several insomnia-inducing conditions, including restless leg syndrome (RLS) and night terrors. [7]

Magnesium also plays an important role in hydration, energy production and the deactivation of adrenaline. Having sufficient magnesium in your body does not necessarily guarantee that you will go into a deep sleep quickly and stay there, writes nutritional therapist Marek Doyle, but insufficient stores of the mineral guarantee that you won’t. [8]

What are symptoms of a magnesium deficiency?
• Difficulty falling asleep
• Waking easily in the night
• Waking before the alarm
• Cramping regularly
• Cold hands and feet
• Tightness in neck and shoulders

Natural sources of magnesium include:
• Green leafy vegetables including brown seaweed which is naturally high both calcium and magnesium [9]
• Certain beans and nuts (like almonds)
• Whole, unrefined grains, like wheat.
• Tap water (particularly hard tap water) can also be a source of magnesium.
• Animal sources include red meats, poultry, fish


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