Long-term prescription medication for insomnia does not improve sleep – study
Long-term use of insomnia medication is not linked to better quality sleep, a study suggests.
Experts examined a group of women who had sleep difficulties and compared information among those who had started prescription drugs for sleep with those who did not use medication.
They found that there was no statistically significant difference in either of the groups.
And they called for long-term use of sleep medication to be re-examined.
Sleep difficulties are common and the use of medication to help people sleep has risen over the last two decades.
But the team of researchers from the US said that these drugs have a “range of safety concerns”.
Most of the information about the efficacy of the drugs is from short-term use of two to 12 weeks, but many use the medication for longer than this, they added.
Their study, published in the journal BMJ Open, examined a group of middle-aged women with sleep problems.
The team examined data on 238 women who started sleep medication and compared their information with 447 women with sleep problems who did not use such medication.
They were followed up at one year and then again after two years.
But the authors found that “sleep medication use was not associated with reduced sleep disturbances” after comparing the self-reported data on sleep quality.
“When physicians or other clinicians prescribe these medicines, they often begin with short-term prescriptions, but many patients receiving these prescriptions become long-term users,” the authors wrote.
“The lack of benefit observed in the current study suggests that when physicians begin prescribing these medicines they should discuss with patients that many patients continue them long-term, and that there is scant evidence demonstrating benefit to using these medicines beyond several months.”
They said that their study does not support the use of the drugs over a long period.