We’ve known for a long time that hypnotic drugs are not good to take for more than one to three weeks because they are habit-forming and increase the risk of accidents. And there’s now a growing body of evidence that shows they could be increasing the risk of premature death.
Hypnotics are medicines prescribed specifically to help people suffering from insomnia get a good night’s sleep. This includes people who have difficulty getting to sleep as well as those who struggle to stay asleep.
The class of hypnotics prescribed the most are benzodiazepines or very closely related drugs. In this benzodiazapine class are temazepam (Normison, Temaze), flunitrazepam (Hypnodorm) and nitrazepam (Mogadon).
While these drugs are typically prescribed to people suffering from insomnia, some other well known benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium), oxazepam (Serepax) and alprazolam (Xanax) are also prescribed for anxiety.
The “Z” group of newer hypnotic medicines such as zolpidem (Stilnox) and zopiclone (Imovane, Imrest), are very similar to the benzodiazepines in their mechanisms of action and have identical issues.
Problems and more problems
Despite claims to the contrary, no hypnotic delivers sleep of the same quality as natural sleep. And there are a number of proven non-drug treatment options for insomnia, such as simple relaxation techniques that are definitely better in the long term.
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