Sweet dreams or shattered bones? The unexpected tie between sleeping pills and fractures

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sleeping-pills-linked-to-bone-breaks(NaturalHealth365)  Taking a sleeping pill now and then is not uncommon for the majority of the population, as stress and occasional insomnia are something that almost every human being experiences.  For too many people, however, sleeping pills are a way of life, something that they use every single day.

While sedatives can be “tolerated” (in some cases) and prescribed quite often around the world, many are not without their drawbacks.  For example, a recent systemic review of observational studies done on sleep medicine has evaluated the link between osteoporotic bone breaks and sleep medicine usage.  The results, though inconclusive regarding causation, draw a compelling link between the use of sleep medications and the risk of osteoporotic bone breaks.

Researchers examine the link between sedative drug use and osteoporotic fractures

Osteoporosis is a disease that results in the loss of bone mass and density, particularly in older people, with avariouscausal factors that we will not dive into here.  Suffice it to say it is a common underlying condition for older adults who suffer a variety of fractures.

The originators of the study in question found a significant amount of perceived correlation between sedative drug use and osteoporotic bone breaks.  They wanted to see if there was a stronger connection than just anecdotal or perceptual links.

Unpacking the link through a comprehensive review

The systemic review included thousands of studies detailing the medical histories of over 6 million patients throughout the world.  The data was organized by age, sex, sedative type, and duration/frequency of usage.  The types of sedatives were delineated by first, second, and third-generation drugs: namely barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and modern z-drugs (zopiclone and zalepion, for instance).

Older-class drugs seemed to be the most closely linked to osteoporotic fractures and also seemed to have the longest duration and frequency of use.  Otherwise, there was very little difference in the outcomes within the classes of sedatives.

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The results of the review suggest a small to moderate link between even minor and moderate usage of sedative drugs and osteoporotic bone breaks.  This is important as it can inform doctors treating people who have osteoporosis and sleep problems to find the best method to treat both.

Although the systemic review does not indicate a causal factor that links osteoporotic bone breaks with sedative use, it points out some possible connections.

The first is that sedative use in older populations can cause post-sleep dizziness, fatigue, confusion, and difficulty walking.  These effects can increase the risk of falls and, in an osteoporotic individual, drive up their fracture risk.

Another potential link is that a person who consistently needs to use sedative drugs for sleep may not be getting the best quality of sleep and, therefore, might not be as physically robust as a person who is nutritionally sound and sleeping well.

Fixing sleep problems without medication

No matter your age, sleep problems can affect your quality of life.  If you do not want to take sedative drugs or you have a family member you would like to help stop taking sleeping pills, there are many ways to improve your sleep hygiene and the quality of your sleep.

Melatonin in small quantities has been shown to help you sleep, but there is a rebound effect at higher doses, so be mindful of the lowest effective dose for you.

Black cumin oil extract is another herbal remedy that seems to actively help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer.

In older individuals, strength training can help combat osteoporosis and improve sleep quality.  It doesn’t need to be a hardcore gym session either; just 20 to 30 minutes a few times a week.  Training helps improve bone density and burns off energy, improving sleep quality.

Finally, one of the greatest things you can do for your overall health is to improve your diet and cut out junk foods, like sugar and other highly processed treats.  There does seem to be a link between sugary sweets and other processed snacks and poor sleep.  Eating healthy, whole foods nourishes your body and primes it for growth and repair, both of which happen most consistently during restful sleep.

Just about anything that a medication does, you can find a non-toxic way to replicate the desired result without taking the chance of risky side effects associated with pharmaceutical drugs.  Proper diet, avoiding the use of computers or mobile devices (emitting artificial white light) before bed, regular exercise, and natural remedies all serve to improve just about every metric of health without any unwanted side effects.

To improve your sleep habits, don’t forget the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin: “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”  Naturally, this applies to women too!  So, start developing this habit as soon as possible.

If you are concerned about sedative use for yourself or a loved one, consider the above strategies before consigning yourself to the potential downsides of sleep aids.

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