|Basic InformationLatest News|Sleepless Nights, Unhealthy Hearts?Curbing Sleep Apnea Might Mean Fewer Night Trips to BathroomHealth Tip: Slipping Back Into SleepPast Prescribing Behavior Predicts Choice of Insomnia RxWhat Guides Docs' Sleeping Pill Picks? 'Same Old Same Old,' Study SaysSkimp on Sleep and You Just May Wind Up SickSleepless Nights Linked to Asthma Later in LifeThe ABCs of Good ZzzzzsLevel 3 Polysomnography Data Noninferior for OSAJury Still Out on Whether to Screen All Adults for Sleep ApneaHealth Tip: 5 Things to Help You Sleep SoundlyMany Misuse OTC Sleep Aids: SurveyHomeless, And Often Sleepless TooHealth Tip: Struggling in the Morning?VA ECHO Program Feasible for Management of Sleep DisordersStudy Finds Genetic Link Between Sleep Problems and ObesityStudy Sees Link Between Insomnia, AsthmaWeb-Based Help for Insomnia Shows PromiseHealth Tip: When Sleep is InterruptedCPAP Improves Asthma Control, QoL for Adults With Asthma, OSASleep Apnea May Boost Risk for Post-Op ProblemsHome-Based CBT Program for Sleep Feasible in PregnancyHealth Tip: Making the Transition to SleepSleep Troubles, Heart Troubles?Why Some Women Find Good Sleep Tough to GetSleep Apnea Diagnoses Up Among Outpatients From 1993 to 2010For Those With Sleep Apnea, Maybe It's Time for a Driving TestMouse Study Suggests Brain Circuit Involved in Sleep-Wake CycleRisk of Cardiovascular Events Not Reduced With CPAP UseNighttime Sleep Disturbance Common in Chronic PainResistant Hypertension Linked to Increased Risk of Sleep ApneaDrowsy Driving Causes 1 in 5 Fatal Crashes: ReportStudy Links Sleep Problems to Stroke Risk, RecoveryHealth Tip: Considering a Sleep Study?Sleep Disorders 6 Times Higher Among VeteransHealth Tip: Exercise for Better SleepSleep Apnea Tied to Complications After AngioplastyUSPSTF Finds Evidence Lacking for Sleep Apnea ScreeningShift Work 'Unwinds' Body Clock, May Lead to More Severe StrokeShift Workers at Greater Risk of Heart Ills, Study SaysAssociated Professional Sleep Societies, June 5-9, 2010Sleep Disorder News FeedQuestions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
Many Misuse OTC Sleep Aids: Survey
by By Dennis Thompson
Updated: Dec 29th 2016
THURSDAY, Dec. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- People struggling with insomnia often turn to non-prescription sleep remedies that may be habit-forming and are only intended for short-term use, according to a new Consumer Reports survey.
The survey found that 18 percent of people who said they'd taken such over-the-counter drugs in the past year did so on a daily basis. And 41 percent said they'd taken them for a year or longer.
"We were shocked to see so many people taking so many over-the-counter sleep aids, and doing so much longer than they were supposed to," said Lisa Gill, deputy content editor of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.
The drugs in question include Advil PM and Tylenol PM -- pain relievers or cold formulas that contain sleep aids -- as well as straight sleep remedies like Nytol, Simply Sleep, Sominex, Unisom SleepMinis and ZzzQuil, according to the survey.
The active sleep aid in all these drugs is diphenhydramine, a decades-old antihistamine intended for short-term use, Gill said.
"It's really meant to treat allergies, but a side effect is drowsiness," Gill said.
Such regular use could put people at risk of side effects from either diphenhydramine or other ingredients also contained in the over-the-counter drugs, she said.
"The instructions are pretty clear" regarding diphenhydramine, Gill said. "You don't want to take it for longer than two weeks at a time. There's a whole host of reasons for that."
Medicines containing diphenhydramine can cause constipation, dizziness, daytime drowsiness or confusion, putting a person at risk for accidents, Gill said.
Also, some studies have linked diphenhydramine to an increased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease, Gill said. "That's the scary part," she said, since the antihistamine has been available to the public for a very long time.
Sleep expert Dr. Raj Dasgupta said he's also concerned that people are taking medicines to induce drowsiness that contain other active ingredients.
"It's scary that people will take these medications for their sleeping effects," said Dasgupta, an assistant professor with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, and a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "They sometimes don't realize they're getting other medications along with the sleep aid."
For example, Advil PM contains ibuprofen, a pain reliever that can cause gastrointestinal problems and ulcers if overused, he said.
Dasgupta added that Tylenol PM also contains acetaminophen, a pain reliever that can be hard on the liver -- especially if taken while also drinking alcohol.
Consumer Reports is concerned that people might become psychologically dependent on these over-the-counter sleep aids, Gill said, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows manufacturers to state that the drugs are non-habit-forming.
Dasgupta agreed that psychological dependence is a concern regarding these sleep aids.
"Being a physician, caring about my patients, if they are going to ask me if one of these medications is addicting, I am going to be honest and say there's a chance it can be addicting," he said. "Because they're sold over the counter, there isn't a physician there to make that statement."
In response to the Consumer Reports story, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, an industry trade group, said in a statement: "For over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, there are two active ingredients (diphenhydramine and doxylamine) that are approved by the FDA to treat occasional sleeplessness, not long-term sleep disorders or insomnia.
"The most important step for consumers to take when using any OTC medicine is to always read and follow the label, and a key take-away for OTC sleep aids is for consumers to note that the label directs use up to two weeks to help relieve occasional [sleeplessness]. Consumers should talk to a health care provider if their sleeplessness persists or if they have any questions."
Both Dasgupta and Gill recommend cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) as a first-choice treatment for chronic insomnia.
Those with insomnia undergoing CBT work with a licensed sleep therapist to figure out the habits, patterns and attitudes they've developed that might be getting in the way of a good night's rest, Dasgupta said.
For example, patients might be varying their bedtime and wake time throughout the week, which can throw off the body's internal clock. Or they might be spending too much time in front of a light-emitting tablet or TV just before bed, which can make it harder to get to sleep, he said.
For more on sleep aids, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
To read the Consumer Reports story, click here.
This article: Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.