Sleeping pills can help gain a healthier and longer sleep. These anti-anxiety drugs seem beneficial to the ever-busy college student, but they can cause cancer and even death.
Jeromy Gurule, sophomore electrical and computer engineering major, has experienced the side effects of taking sleeping pills.
“When I first started taking the pills they were great,” Gurule said. “I slept better and felt more energized for the next day. But after a while of taking them, it was hard to fall asleep without them, and I would get frequent headaches and stomach pains.”
Dr. Daniel F. Kripke, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, who specializes in sleep research, performed a study in January 2012 on the effects of sleeping pills and how they can shorten a person’s life.
“The patients who took sleeping pills died 4.6 times as often during follow- ups averaging 2.5 years,” Kripke said in his book, “The Dark Side of Sleeping Pills.”
“Patients who took higher doses (over 132 pills a year) died 5.3 times as often Even those patients who took fewer than 18 pills per year had a very significantly elevated mortality, 3.6 times that of patients who took no hypnotics.”
Many experts such as Kripke believe these anti-anxiety drugs are just as harmful as smoking cigarettes. Like cigarettes, they can also cause cancer.
Further along in Kripke’s study, he found there were nine new skin cancers and four other cancers among study participants randomized to the different sleeping pills.
According to Web- MD, there are 10 sleeping pills found to have a significant mortality risk and cause of cancer.
The use of sleeping pills in the United States continues to grow. The Los Angeles Times reported a record-high 56 million prescriptions for the drugs in 2008. The most recent study in 2011 showed an increase for the sleeping pills to 60 million prescriptions.
“The size of the sleeping pill market can only go up because of the economy and stress,” said Dr. Greg D. Jacobs, an insomnia specialist at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, in an interview with The Los Angeles Times.
These sleeping pills also have other side effects that can have an effect on one’s day-to-day life.
Sleeping pills are not the only option for better sleep. There are many alternatives to a sleeping pill that are just as effective and will not come with the side effects.
Angelique Carrillo, freshman criminal justice major, drinks tea every night to help her go to sleep because it is a safe and natural alternative to sleeping pills.
“Every night I drink hot chamomile tea before I go to sleep and it helps me fall asleep faster,” she said. “I feel energized and awake the next day and the best part is that it tastes good.”
There are healthier, more natural ways to fall asleep rather than taking sleeping pills which can be harmful to the body and mind and dangerous enough to take a life.