The typical answer for sleep problems or anxiety is medication. But in no way do these drugs actually fix anything.
Rather, the underlying brain damage that stress causes is allowed to run amok, unchecked. And make no mistake–stress destroys your brain. Shrinks it. Kills off healthy brain cells. Shortens memory. Accompanying the brain damage is damage to the rest of your body as well. Increased risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
In summary, not good.
In my opinion, stress is the leading cause of sleep problems. How is your body supposed to sleep when all the cortisol-based alarms in your head are screaming that there is a saber-toothed pacing in the hallway. Managing stress is key to anxiety and sleep problems. Exercise and eating right for your body. Meditation, self-hypnosis or biofeedback for your brain.
Using medication to cover this up is a recipe for disaster and is associated with over a half MILLION deaths per year. I’ve written about this in a previous blog article that can be found by clicking here. So, with this in mind, is nothing new and just reinforces this dangerous association and puts the damaging effects of stress on your health into perspective.
Here are the details of this study looking at 34,727 patients 16 years of age and older who were prescribed anxiolytic or hypnotic drugs and followed for an average of 7.6 years:
• Most common drugs were benzodiazepines (think diazepam) and the “Z” drugs (zaleplon, zolpidem, and zopiclone – think Ambien).
• Those taking one of these drugs had a 346% higher risk of dying in the study period.
• The higher the dose, the greater the risk.
• To put in more plainly, there were about four excess deaths for every 100 patients using one of drugs.
If this was not the first study to find an association between the use of these 2 types of drugs (for anxiety and sleep problems) we could maybe blow off the results. But we can no longer ignore the fact that taking a drug in this class WILL increase your risk of dying. Period. Maybe it’s the stress or maybe some aspect of the drugs themselves. Either way, it doesn’t change the outcome. Dead is dead regardless of how it happened.