The Awful Price of a Good Night’s Sleep

The 2016 election season delivered plenty of surprises. Winners and losers aside, there’s one surprise nobody saw coming. Doctors across the country reported a jump in the number of patients complaining of stress.

The American Psychological Association reports more than half the population says this election cycle was a source of significant stress. And for folks on social media sites, it’s been especially bad.

One of the side effects of stress is sleeplessness. And millions turn to sleeping pills for relief. What they don’t know is some of these pills can cost a lot more than the price of a prescription.

Studies suggest some of the most common sleeping pills could also cost you your life…

Peaceful Rest or Rest in Peace?

Whether it’s election anxiety, relentless demands at work, or just the pressures of keeping up with home and family, stress is very real. It leaves you lying in bed, staring at the ceiling. Or restlessly tossing and turning. And all the while, your brain is racing at a million miles an hour.

It’s pretty easy to understand why you’d want something – anything – to help you get some sleep. And sleeping pills seem to offer the perfect answer. Because one type of sleeping pill is tailor-made to calm a racing mind.

Benzodiazepines (BZPs) fall into the broad category of “hypnotics.” They’re often used for anxiety and insomnia. That’s because they’re designed to boost levels of GABA in your brain.

GABA – Gamma-amino butyric acid – is your body’s top calming neurotransmitter. It’s the chemical your brain normally releases when it’s time to sleep. GABA slows racing thoughts, calms your mind, and lets you slow down, relax, and drift off into peaceful rest.

BZPs are designed to trigger the release of GABA. And they do. But, like virtually all drugs, BZPs may have a few “minor” side effects. Side effects like raising your risk of an early death…

Out of the Frying Pan…

BZPs are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the country. But the side effects have been piling up in recent years. Side effects you shouldn’t ignore.

  • 2012 – A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns BZPs alter brain function. Studies show these drugs raise your risk of car accidents.
  • 2012 – The Scripps Clinic finds BZP users are more likely to die from cancer – and from all causes – than non-users. Even people taking BZPs less than 18 times per year tripled their risk of early death.
  • 2013 – A study published in Thorax reveals BZP users are over 50% more likely to suffer with pneumonia than non-users – and have a 19% – 22% higher risk of death.
  • 2014 – A study of people taking BZPs showed they were almost 3.5 times more likely to die from any cause than non-users over the 7.6 years of the study.
  • 2014 – Heart failure victims often have problems sleeping. BZPs are often prescribed to heart failure victims to help them sleep. A Japanese study shows heart failure victims taking BZPs are 8 times more likely to die than those not using the drugs.
  • 2014 – BZP use is linked to a 50% higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Regular use over about half a year doubled the risk of Alzheimer’s.
  • 2015 – A Finnish study – backed by data from the CDC – shows BZP users are more likely to commit homicide than non-users. 

If you’re thinking, “This seems like an awfully steep price for a good night’s sleep,” you’re right.

Now, most of these studies just show a relationship. They don’t prove cause and effect. But here’s the thing: Do you want to take the risk when so many studies show a “relationship”? At some point, it’s just not worth that risk.

Boost GABA Without Dangerous Drugs

BZPs include some pretty familiar drugs. Like Diazepam, Xanax, Librium, and Valium.  Generic names include alprazolam, diazepam, clonazepam, and clorazepate.

One name you won’t find on these lists is lemon balm. This common herb has the advantage of supporting the activity of GABA without side effects.

This calming herb has been studied for its effect on GABA activity. These studies have found lemon balm boosts GABA levels.  It also blocks a key enzyme that lowers GABA levels.

So, before you try a drug with dangerous side effects to ease your sleep problems… maybe have a cup of lemon balm tea. Or take one of the many available lemon balm supplements.

They can help you get a good night’s sleep… without risking your life and health.

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.

“APA Survey Reveals 2016 Presidential Election Source of Significant Stress for More Than Half of Americans,” American Psychological Association. Oct 13, 2016.

Moore, A., “Do Not Drive Under the Influence of These Prescription Medications: Anxiety, Depression and Sleep Pills Increase Accident Risk,” Medical Daily. Sep 13, 2012.

Kripke, D.F., et al, “Hypnotics’ association with mortality or cancer: a matched cohort study,” BMJ Open. 2012; 2: e000850.

Obiora, E., et al, “The impact of benzodiazepines on occurrence of pneumonia and mortality from pneumonia: a nested case-control and survival analysis in a population-based cohort,” Thorax. 2013; 68: 163-170.

Weich, S., et al, “Effect of anxiolytic and hypnotic drug prescriptions on mortality hazards: retrospective cohort study,” BMJ. 2014; 348: g1996.

Preidt, R., et al, “Sleeping Pill Use Tied to Poorer Survival for Heart Failure Patients,” HealthDay. May 17, 2014.

de Gage, S.B., et al, “Benzodiazepine use and risk of Alzheimer’s disease: A case-control study,” BMJ. 2014; 349: g5205.

Tiihonen, J., et al, “Psychotropic drugs and homicide: A prospective cohort study from Finland,” World Psychiatry. Jun 4, 2015; 14(2): 245–247.

Yoo, D.Y., et al, “Effects of Melissa officinalis L. (lemon balm) extract on neurogenesis associated with serum corticosterone and GABA in the mouse dentate gyrus,” Neurochem Res. Feb 2011; 36(2): 250-257.

Awad, R., et al, “Bioassay-guided fractionation of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.) using an in vitro measure of GABA transaminase activity,” Phytother Res. Aug 2009; 23(8): 1075-1081.

© Copyright 2016 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Posted in Anxiety, Stress

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