Adults who take the popular sleep medicine zolpidem better known as Ambien have a much greater risk of nighttime falls and diminished cognitive thinking, according to a new study from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
When I came across this study it really concerned me because so many of my clients and friends take Ambien and other types of sleeping pills. Everyone is always talking about how they can’t remember things like they used too. Conventional Wisdom (CW) would say we’re just getting older but this study makes you think, are we just getting older or are we doing things like taking sleeping pills that are actually fogging are brains and messing with our cognitive skills. I don’t mind getting older but I don’t like when CW contributes every possible condition you have to old age.
As such, lets take a closer look at this study. The study looked at 25 healthy adults who were taking the popular sleeping drug zolpidem. One adverse effect was that the drug led to a significant loss of balance when a person was woken-up two hours after being asleep. This was a very important finding because nightfall’s are a serious problem hospitalizing over 30% of people over 65 years of age.
The researchers used the “tandem walk” similar to the drunk driving test where you have to walk with one foot right in front of the other on a 16-foot-long beam that was six inches wide to measure their balance. All 25 participants were able to walk the beam previously but not while taking zolpidem.
Kenneth Wright, a professor who led the study said, “The balance impairments of older adults taking zolpidem were clinically significant and the cognitive impairments were more than twice as large compared to the same older adults taking placebos”
The second adverse effect of taking the medication was impaired working memory. The study also pointed out that when subjects taking the sleeping pills were woken after two hours of sleep they could not randomly add numbers.
In addition, the researchers pointed out that taking the medication can have serious repercussions if there is an emergency in the middle of the night like a fire, medical emergency or if you are taking care of a sick child.
We all know how horrible it is when you can’t fall asleep and insomnia is really a problem. If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor and see if they have any advice that does not involve taking medication. Exercise, meditation and a change in your diet can all help you sleep. If you have a lot on your mind and that’s keeping you up, go talk to someone about it.
We all want good cognitive thinking and proper balance throughout the day so if you don’t have good morning thinking don’t blame it on getting older. It might be the medication you are taking.
Let me know about your experiences with taking sleeping pills. Have you had any adverse affects?
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Best – Mike Cola