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Obesity Raises Death Risk Tied To Sleeping Pills
Date:3/16/2012

ates.

The research included 10,531 sleeping pill users who were prescribed the medications for an average of 2.5 years and 23,674 control participants who were not prescribed the drugs.  Information came from outpatient clinic visits conducted between Jan. 1, 2002, and Sept. 30, 2006.

"It is important to note that our results are based on observational data, so even though we did everything we could to ensure their validity, it's still possible that other factors explain the associations," said co-author Lawrence E. Kline, D.O., who is medical director of the Viterbi Family Sleep Center. "We hope our work will spur additional research in this area using information from other populations."

Funding for the study came from the Scripps Health Foundation and other philanthropic sources.

The research should prompt physicians to consider alternatives to hypnotic medications, Dr. Kline said.

Clinicians at the Viterbi Family Sleep Center focus on cognitive therapy that teaches patients to better understand the nature of sleep. For example, some people suffering from insomnia might require less than the eight hours of sleep commonly recommended for each night.

Patients also can benefit from practicing good sleeping habits and relaxation, as well as taking advantage of the body's natural clock, which is driven by the rising and setting of the sun, Dr. Kline said. "Understanding how to use the circadian rhythm is a very powerful tool that doesn't require a prescription," he said.

When insomnia results from emotional problems such as depression, doctors should treat the psychological disorder rather than prescribe sleeping pills that could prove to be harmful, Dr. Kripke said.

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