Posts Tagged ‘sleeping pills


Insomnia can make you feel like your mind is racing out of control. A revealing new study explains why your brain may be unable to put the brakes on your thoughts. It links the problem to low levels of a brain chemical.

A new study shows that GABA levels are reduced by 30 percent in adults with chronic primary insomnia. The study was published in the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

GABA is reduced in the brain of individuals with insomnia, suggesting over activity is present. It was explained that low GABA levels create an imbalance of brain activity. This may lead to an inability to shut down waking signals in the brain.

If your GABA levels are low, then your mind can’t slow down. It may race forward at full speed even when it is time to sleep. An over active mind is a key feature of psychophsicological insomnia. At bedtime you are unable to stop thinking and worrying. Your body may be ready for sleep, but your mind remains alert. This state of “hyperarousal” can make it hard for you to fall asleep.

Most with insomnia have “secondary” insomnia. It occurs along with another medical problem, mental illness or sleep disorder. It also may result from the use of a medication or substance. In contrast primary insomnia is unrelated to another health problem. Estimates that about 25 percent of people with insomnia have primary insomnia. The study only links low GABA levels to long lasting, primary insomnia.

All participants in the study had been suffering from primary insomnia for mor than six months. The average duration of their symptoms was about 10 years. The GABA connection affirms that primary insomnia is a legitimate disorder.

Recognition that insomnia has manifestations in the brain may increase the legitimacy of those who have insomnia and report substantial daytime  consequences. It was also explained that insomnia can affect your energy, concentration and mood. It also increases your risk of depression.

One solution for the problem of primary insomnia is the use of hypnotic medication. The short-term use of a sleeping pill can help break the cycle of sleepless nights. The study notes that many of the most effective sleeping pills increase activity at the GABA neurons.

Another treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT helps you learn how to correct attitudes and habits that hinder your sleep. Many of these bad habits develop as people try to cope with chronic insomnia.

It may not seem this way on the surface, but to a sleep doctor there’s a big difference between someone feeling “tired” and someone feeling “sleepy”.

  • Tired means you lack energy, have trouble focusing, and feel “out of it” all the time.
  • Sleepy means you’re yawing, nodding off, and can’t keep your eyes open.

How you feel during the day is a key piece of information for doctors because different sleep disorders have differet symptoms. Insomnia patients are constantly tired but rarely feel the urge to sleep during the day. Sleep apnea and narcolepsy patients are tired too, but they are constantly fighting off sleep.

The clearer you are in describing your symptoms, the quicker your doctor can get you the help you need. Insomnia isn’t immediately life-threaterning, but sleep apnea, with often goes undiagnosed for years, can raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

The risk of people with sleep apnea falling asleep at the wheel is also very real. People with the disorder are twice as likely to have a car crash, and three to five times as likely to have a serious accident involving personal injury, according to a 2007 study conducted in Vancouver.

 While sleep apnea patients often omit the critical word “sleepy” when describing their daytime symptoms, insomniacs rately make the mistake of including it -probably because they just don’t feel they can sleep. They are well aware, instead of being up half the night and feeling exhausted and unfocused during the day.

 Saying that you are so sleepy that you have to nap in your office during the day hopefully will sound the alarm to your doctor. Just saying that you’re tired or run down might leave you with the wrong diagnosis -or none at all.

*Try to write down all the feelings you have on a day when you feel your symptoms the most. That way it’s in writing, and you can be more specific when you see your doctor.

  I took a sleeping pill the other night, as a last resort for caffeine-laced insomnia. It was like a 10-hour sleigh ride through an enchanted forest.

These pill may be addictive, the warning label said.

NO KIDDING, I thought! 🙂

  Sleep is by far the new sex, a lot of sleep experts are starting to say, it’s being advertised all over the place, sex sells is to sleep (aids) sell: Men think about it every seven seconds or so. Women romanticize it. Teenagers yearn for the weekends, when they might get a little of it- that goes for both sex & sleep!

  These days, sleep is just another basic need that Americans can’t seem to meet. And though the national sleep deficit is mostly a cultural issue, it’s easier to treat as a medical problem than as a symptom of life out of whack. People aren’t winding down, they’re going to be and their minds are still racing from the days dos’ and didn’t dos’.

  The National Sleep Foundation releases its annual poll March 28th that confirms what most people already know, if they could escape their groggy haze long enough to form a coherent thought: Nobody gets enough sleep. The reasons are familiar. People spend more hours working and driving, and they raise this children, manage their households and care for aging parents on the fly. They also stay plugged into the grind longer, tapping our e-mails untiljust before hitting the sheets, or they’re already in bed, with their laptop propped up in front of them.

Then they expect to screech to a halt and enter REM on demand.

“People feel the need to be very efficient in their sleep,” said Heather Hartley, a sociology professor, who studies the links between drug companies and society. “They budget a set amount of time and then get stressed out if they can’t go immediately to sleep. There’s no cushion. There’s where the vicious cycle begins.”

  There probably was never a golden age of sleep in this country, as if Americans were well-rested before globalization, the Internet and women’s liberation came along and ruined everything. We’ve always worked hard. Even our old colloquialisms for sleep, such as “hitting the hay” and “sawing logs,” are work-related.

  But the collective fatigue is growing. People sleep nearly an hour less each night than they did two generations ago, according to historic estimates of sleep patterns. High-school seniors are among the most sleep-deprived, getting about two hours less each weeknight than the nine hours they need.

  The sleep experts say relax, drink less coffee and booze, eat better, rest more & exercise. The drug companies say take this pill.

These days, a prescription is far easier to acquire than a healthy life.

  American’s filled an astounding 42 million prescriptions for sleeping pills last year, up 60 percent since 2000, according to the research company IMS Health. Drug companies spent $300 million marketing sleeping pills such as Lunesta and Ambien last year and grossed $2 billion is sales!\

Meanwhile, coffee consumption keep rising. There’s a Starbucks almost every 6 blocks in my city.

  “Somethings’ got to give, ” says  another psychology professor who has begun to study sleeplessness as a symptom of work stress. Personal coping strategies can only do so much, she added, when the economy and culture are rigged against a good nights’ sleep.

  I don’t intend to pop a sleeping pill more than once every few years, no matter how many Lunesta ads crowd my favorite television shows. The drug-induced slumber feels to little too much like getting hit in the head. So the little pill beckons, offering instant relief for your Chronic Sleep Disorder, you get on the sleigh and pull the fur robes snug around your hands, and glide through the forest toward the golden pot of coffee shimmering on the horizon.

  It’s not a good nights’ sleep, but it’s the next-best thing.

…Yup, Driving Under Influence of Sleeping Pills!

  Now there has become a growing hazard on the roadway, the kind where motorist smash into parked cars, plows over sidewalks and drives in the wrong direction, all the while oblivious to the destruction thats left behind, it’s a new kind of hit and run! -These drivers aren’t drunk, stoned -they’re under the influence of Ambien, the newest popular prescription sleeping pill!

  Ambien is regularly popping up as a factor in traffic arrests, involving drivers who don’t even remember getting behind the wheel; according to a post found in The New Yourk Times.

  In some states toxicology laboratories, Ambien showed up in the top 10 list of drugs found in impaired drivers. In Wisconsin, Ambien was detected in the bloodstreams of 187 arrested drivers from 1999 to 2004.

  And as more insomniacs turn to this drug -(not like there aren’t other ways to getting a better nights sleep…) but there were 26.5 million prescriptions filled last year in the United States alone! Ambien-related arrests and accidents are expected to be on the rise! -So watch out for the mid-Westners!

   [Here is a good one]: In Washington state, officals counted 78 impaired-driving arrests in which Ambien was the factor, last year. Up from 56 cases in 2004. Some of Washington’s zombie-like drivers said they took the pill while behind the wheel so that it would kick in by bedtime!-

“Wow, that’s a really bad idea,” said sleep special Dr. Brook Judd, as assistant professor on medicine. “These newer sleep medications have a rapid onset so people can get to sleep quickly. You shouldn’t take them until you are really ready to go to bed.” >Don’t doctors pound this into patients heads when they are getting evaluated for these kind of things (drugs)?

  Several cases also involved drivers using alcohol with Ambien -a combination that magnigies the drowsy- lifeless effects of this drug.  A spokeswoman for the Food & Drug Admin told the newspaper that the agency is aware of the reports of people driving while sleepwalking, but said that the drug’s current warning lable states, …Should not be used with alcohol and in some cases could cause sleepwalking or hallucinations, which were adequate. Users are advised not to drive or operate machinersy while taking the drug. > So whats wrong with this picture? We have warning labels for a reason…right?

  Laura J. Liddicoat, the forensic toxicology supervisor at Wisconcin’s state lab, resented six cases of Ambien drivers at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Scientisits, including a man who crashed into two cars and drover a curb. This was all news to him when he came to in the police station!



Yummm…wait where did those pesky 10lbs come from again???

  Strange behavior by insomniacs taking prescription drugs, are on the rise. Ranging from binge eating to having sex all while asleep! These have raised safety questions about anti-insomnia medications such as Sanofi-Aventis’ Ambien.

  Researchers are studying cases where insomniacs taking Ambien got up in the middle of the night, binged uncontrollably, (either in food, or their partner) then remembered nothing of their actions the next day.

  I guess these sleep-induced side effects while on this medication have been around for years, but the incidence is rising because of an explosion in the drugs’ use is becoming and epidemic!

  Researchers haven’t found a cause for the sleep-related eating disorder, although patients with prior history of sleep-walking and women may even be at a higher risk.

  Doctors who are prescribing this medication should be engaging in discussions with their patients to describe and try to understand potential contributors to this behavior. The researchers identified 32 Ambien users who where experiencing sleep-related eating disorders with amnesia. Researches estimated that thousands of Ambien users in the U.S. experience sleep-related eating disorders while taking the drug.

   And they are wondering why the US is struggling with obesity, and why we are considered to be the “fattest” country! We don’t even know that we’re getting fat, just give us a pill, and a pill for that pill, and a pill for that side effect, ohhhh boy doesn’t the list ever end???

  A study even showed that patients who took other, older sleep medications didn’t experience the disorders. So why is Ambien still in the market?

  About 30 million people in the United States take sleep medications, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. By some counts that is a 50 percentile jump since the beginning of the decade. Ambien is boasting 12 BILLION nights of patient use!

  Some of the most serious side effects are short-term memory loss, and accidents involving patients who drive the next day, while still feeling drugged. (I love how we know all this information and yet ‘we’ continue to take/supply these yummie little pills)

  “Patients who have engaged in this unusual behavior at night – it’s relatively rare and bizarre,” said Donna Arand, president of the American Insomnia Association.

  “The daytime sleepiness – that drugged feeling that people may have – is probably the most worrisome because of the (vehicular) accidents that can occur.” (really…)

Memory Problems????

 Consumer group Public Citizen warned that Ambien should only be used on a limited basis because it causes temporary amnesia.

 Because the Food and Drug Admin’s reporting system is voluntary and anecdotal, “we don’t know how big of a problem it realty is… we have no way too accurately to assess the prevalence,” said the consultant of Public Citizen.

 Memory issues my be an infrequent side effect, but when it occurs it could be very costly! This certainly needs to be looked at in a more rigorous way. (Before you know it people who leave their kids in cars are going to say they were suffering from memory loss due to Ambien! GREAT!)

  This just in: * Doctors recommend against abruptly stopping the drug(s), which can cause withdrawal symptoms including seizures! * 😉

 “The risk has always been there; we are just seeing it more now because so many more people are using the drug(s),” said the program director at the sleep disorder unit at the National Institutes of Health.

  And yet we still love to eat em’ up, and then when things go wrong we want to start pointing fingers, instead of doing our own research and finding out exactly what we’re putting into our bodies!

Ambien wakes up the brain damaged

    Ambien (AKA Zolpidem) is an odd drug. Prescribed for insomnia, it seems to cause weird side effects like sleep eating and sleep driving, and getting into fights with cops. On occasion it also seems to wake people up from near vegetative states. In the case of this study a woman suffering from akinetic mutism– a state where you’re conscious, but can’t respond to the world with movement or speaking, Ambien let her function, ala Awakenings. From the press release:

…researchers conducted a study of a 48 year-old woman who developed akinetic mutism due to oxygen deprivation to her brain following an attempted suicide by hanging. The patient was totally dependent, unable to speak or walk, and was using a feeding tube for nourishment, although she was able to understand single words. Two years after the suicide attempt, she was given Zolpidem for a bout of insomnia; 20 minutes later, she was able to communicate to her family, eat by herself, and move. These effects lasted for up to three hours.

It’s not the first time Ambien has shown these kinds of effects on brain damage victims. The researchers don’t know why, but that just as adds to Ambien’s mystery- no one knows exactly why it has any of these strange cognitive effects. It’s in the top 20 of drugs prescribed in America consistently. Colin Powell not only confirmed he takes it, but that it was popular with the administration. It’s also abusable, which is the technical way of saying it can be addictive and overly fun. A pharmacist I was speaking to socially once told me that “if you want to see a soccer mom shake like a crack whore, tell her she’s out of refills on her Ambien.”

I personally stopped taking Ambien after an inappropriate conversation with my partner, where I apparently called him bad things. I say apparently, because I have no memory of this happening at all. That it can help patients to come out of a vegetative state just another confirmation that we know very little about how our drugs or our bodies work. It’s even odder than saving babies’ lives with Viagra.


I missed this yesterday, but it’s too amazing not to post. Ambien can apparently wake people up from a persistent vegetative state. The anecdotes in this Guardian story are incredible. The drug appears to improve not only brain function but also physical capabilities for people who have barely moved and have not communicated at all for years.

George Melendez was starved of oxygen when his care overturned in a pond near his home in Houston in 1998. His mother, Pat Flores, said doctors told her her son would never recover. He had suffered multi-organ failure and doctors said his body would eventually give out.

He survived and four years later, while visiting a clinic, Pat gave him a sleeping pill because his constant moaning was keeping her and her husband, Del, awake in their shared hotel room. “After 10 to 15 minutes I noticed there was no sound and I looked over,” she recalls. “Instead of finding him asleep, there he was, wide awake, looking at his surroundings. I said, ‘George’, and he said, ‘What?’ We sat up for two hours asking him questions and he answered all of them. His improvements have continued and we talk every day. He has a terrific sense of humor and he carries on running jokes from the day before.

“It is difficult to describe how it feels to get someone back who you were told you had lost for ever.”