Deep Sleep: Sleeping Pills

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Each Thursday in March, Alice Park, Time Magazine staff writer who covers health and medicine, talks about sleep. Today: a new study about the risks of sleeping pills.

Listeners: What other sleep issues would you like to hear about as part of this series? Tell us your suggestions for future segments on sleep. Comment here!


Alice Park

Comments [41]

Ammar saneej from Sri lanka

Good day to you all those who read it.i want to know some sleeping pills which make me deeper sleep.furthermore the sleeping pills which would be told by should be available in every nook and corner since i am from asia i mean, i am from sri lanka.i rarely feel sleepy ane it makes me worry .i struggle alot because of the sleepliness.reply to my question please.

Dec. 25 2012 01:55 PM
Ammar saneej from Sri lanka

Good day to you all those who read it.i want to know some sleeping pills which make me deeper sleep.furthermore the sleeping pills which would be told by should be available in every nook and corner since i am from asia i mean, i am from sri lanka.i rarely feel sleepy ane it makes me worry .i struggle alot because of the sleepliness.reply to my question please.

Dec. 25 2012 01:54 PM
Ammar saneej from Sri lanka

Good day to you all those who read it.i want to know some sleeping pills which make me deeper sleep.furthermore the sleeping pills which would be told by should be available in every nook and corner since i am from asia i mean, i am from sri lanka.i rarely feel sleepy ane it makes me worry .i struggle alot because of the sleepliness.reply to my question please.

Dec. 25 2012 01:54 PM
J Iwanski from NJ

What about melatonin? Is it safe? I use it occasionally and it helps me get to sleep.

Mar. 25 2012 12:28 PM
Jerrold Shuster from Henderson, NV

My son, who lives in Brooklyn, sent me a link to your 15 March podcast. I learned that I had sleep apnea in 1988. Back then I told my otorhinolaryngologist that I thought my epiglottis was the culprit but he was skeptical though surprised I was able to demonstrate for him how I could make it seal over my trachea. Jump ahead to 2009, after several failed surgeries designed to correct my apnea, when I meet Dr T J O-Lee associated with UMC in Las Vegas. He performed an epiglottopexy on me and I no longer have sleep apnea. My AHI is 1.8. Contact me, if you'd like to hear my story in detail. My cell number is 702-334-8776. Jerrold Shuster

Mar. 22 2012 10:10 PM
Tovit Krakowski from Airmont, NY

I'd like to hear about the following sleep-related issues:
Is all sleep equivalent? How do you measure how much sleep a person gets in terms of quality?
What is sleep hygiene?
what is the role of daylight in sleep disorders? what is the role of melatonin?
How do you determine how much sleep a person needs--keeping in mind my first question about quality?

Mar. 22 2012 02:42 PM
April from Manhattan

I'd like to hear more about sleep problems in regard to PTSD from trauma in military service, or due to sexual or physical abuse. Not to mention various mental illnesses. A friend of mine, Dr Chris Gillin, now deceased, had a sleep clinic in San Diego.As a psychiatrist, he could validly diagnose psychiatric illnesses based on sleep monitors. He temporarily cured depression by waking depressives early.

Mar. 20 2012 05:34 PM
Lisa from Manhattan

If the guest could comment further on this autonomic form of sleep apnea, I'd really appreciate it. Because ceasing to breathe is a very scary thing, and I don't know who to see or what to do to fix it.

Mar. 15 2012 11:02 AM
Lisa from New York

What do you do if your brain does stop telling your lungs to breathe at night? I've had that happen numerous times and once had to go to the emergency room (where I passed out). I've had a sleep study twice - the first time, I did not sleep enough to make the study worthwhile. The 2nd time I took enough sleeping pills to do the trick, but they observed no apnea and said nothing is wrong. I snore like a freight train, although I only weigh 100 lbs.

Mar. 15 2012 10:56 AM
maya from brooklyn

My husband uses a CPAP machine & it has saved our lives - i would have killed him for waking me up all night! i am so happy my darth vader is well rested, happier & healthier.

i'm wondering if the soft pallet could be strengthened (as is done with singing exercises) to help keep the airway open?

Mar. 15 2012 10:50 AM
Jeff from NJ, USA

Is it too late to ask for information about obstructive sleep apnea? I have do not tolerate CPAP (or bi-PAP) without massive sleeping pills which leave me extremely drowsy the following day. I've had two operations - sleep apnea got worse after the second!

Mar. 04 2012 05:59 AM
Helen from NJ from Summit, NJ

I've been teaching the Transcendental Meditation technique for 25 years and I hear over and over how people start sleeping better right from the beginning of learning the technique.

The most recent woman I taught said, after two days of doing the TM technique, that normally she needed 6 or 7 sleeping pills to get through the night, but that that night she needed less (I forget how many pills), after two more nights she was down to two pills. I'm looking forward to hear what she says after meditating a few more weeks!

Not only are there no negative side effects to the TM technique, but there are NUMEROUS side benefits!

Mar. 02 2012 01:03 AM
Carol from nyc

It has always been said that sleep is vitally important for cell renewal and for optimum cognitive function.
I believe that if a small 5mg dose of ambien helps to insure that, can taking a short acting sleeping pill be considered a reasonable trade-off? In other words i'd say that getting a decent nights sleep with ambien compared with a disruptive and low quality sleep without it makes sense. An expert's opinion?
(Does ambien actually interfere with the architecture of sleep?)

Mar. 02 2012 12:44 AM
jan weisblum

if you take melatonin on a regular basis, will your body stop producing it? will you develop a dependancy upon it?

Mar. 01 2012 04:18 PM
Caitlin from Brooklyn

What is it in Nyquil that knocks people out?

What suggestions do you have for helping infants and then toddlers to get enough sleep?

Mar. 01 2012 02:11 PM

I'd love to hear more about the following topics:

-Sleep Apnea - what is it, why are we seeing more cases of it (is this really due to weaker jaw/neck muscles), how can it be treated traditionally (CPAP) and what novel methods exist that may be easier (CPAP has a very low adherence rate)

-Energy Supplements - what are people taking to combat sleep (caffeine, energy drinks, inhalable caffeine - aeroshots, nuvigil), what effect does it have short term and long term

-Sleep Deprivation - are people sleeping less than they used to? By how much? What are the effects of sleep deprivation, long-term and short term.

-Sleep Disorders - what disorders are out there - bruxism? what else? How are people dealing with sleep problems and evaluating their own sleep? What about home devices that track sleep - FitBit, Zeo, etc.?

Mar. 01 2012 12:42 PM
hmi from Brooklyn

Doxylamine succinate antihistamine is used in various US products.

Mar. 01 2012 12:22 PM
Sandra Schulberg from Jackson Heights, NY

I travel a great deal and when changing time zones I rely on an extraordinarily effective and agreeable (no weird after-effects or sense of having been drugged) sleeping pill sold over the counter in all French pharmacies as "Donormyl." The primary active ingredient is 15mg Succinate de Doxylamine. (I'd be happy to provide the other inert ingredients.) The French packaging slip lists the manufacturer as Bristol Myers Squibb. It is classified as an antihistamine, and costs approx. 3 euros for 10 pills.

- I'd like to know what the closest U.S. equivalent in composition to this sleep aid.
- I'd like to know whether this medication was tracked in the study to which Alice Park referred.

Many thanks,

PS: It is serrated so it can be easily broken in half, and I often take a half-pill if I know I won't be able to sleep for 7 to 8 hours.

Mar. 01 2012 11:56 AM
Jodi Godfrey from Montclair NJ

It's important when discussing the clinical relevance of research findings to separate out the effects on women versus men. Since there are well known sex and gender differences affecting sleep, I'd like to have Dr. Park comment on any sex and gender findings that may add to the evidence from her study as well as addressing known sex and gender differences in responsiveness/effectiveness of the various prescription medications in general.

Mar. 01 2012 11:34 AM

I grind my teeth something awful at night. I've been wearing a night guard for the past 3 years or so, but my jaw often aches in the morning. Sometimes I'm grinding my teeth so hard that the pain wakes me up. My teeth are protected, but I would love to know more about the causes and how to stop!!

Mar. 01 2012 11:15 AM
Anna from Jersey City

I have gone to Willner Chemists at 40th and Park for years. They are the largest, most comprehensive supplement pharmacy (with knowledgeable pharmacists) specializing in the best ranges of supplements and homeopathics. I have had trouble sleeping fas well, but 2 products I recommend from Willners are "Calms Forte" by Hylands, homeopathic tablets, inexpensive and quite effective and also "Best Rest Formula" by Pure Encapsulations. Then for those who respond to triptophan, there is "Optimized TryptoPure Plus" by LIfe Extensions.

The best thing is to go to a good kinesiologist, who can muscle test you to find exactly what supplementation you need and how much, rather than stabbing around in the dark and guessing or even worse using heavy medication.

Mar. 01 2012 11:03 AM
Christina from East Village

My issue, and therefore query is more about staying asleep. Falling asleep is not the problem, but I usually wake after 4-5 hours, go to the bathroom and can never get back to sleep. Is this an issue for others? What can I do?

Mar. 01 2012 10:58 AM
hmi from Brooklyn

My problem isn't falling asleep, but staying asleep. I'm told that this is a factor in CFS, from which I suffered badly for some years. On the advice of an M.D., I have been using Benadryl (but a generic version) every night, 2-4 tablets. It lets me get 8-9 hours sleep, which has made a huge difference in my general health and allowed me to resume exercising. According to just about everything I've read and according my physician, there are no worrisome problems of long term use of antihistamines.

Mar. 01 2012 10:56 AM
Natalie from Brooklyn

I increasingly believe that all medications ahould be approved or supervised by your primary care physician who knows you best and can see the interaction of all drugs you are taking. Psychiatrists are often no more than pill doctors who are focused on keeping you happy and under their individual care.

Mar. 01 2012 10:56 AM

As a parent who wakes up every 2 hours for 1 year and counting, am I causing some permanent and irreversible damage to my health?

Mar. 01 2012 10:55 AM

Another vote for sleep apnea-- wondering about the correlation/causation between apnea and other conditions, such as heart disease, particularly from a physiological perspective. Also the extent of undiagnosed apnea, and issues with compliance (anxiety, etc.)

Sorry to say I didn't hear anything specific about the link between hypnotic sleep meds and death rate. This seems the latest in a long line of "Americans are overmedicated" stories that I have heard/read recently, often accompanied by a kind of moral rectitude about the virtues of exercise and natural living. I have to say that hypnotic sleep meds have the virtue of quieting my overexcited mind and allowing me some rest.

Mar. 01 2012 10:54 AM
shana from South Orange, NJ

For those wondering what OTC herbal remedies work for sleeping, I suggest something with VALERIAN root. I take one I purchased at Whole Foods, and it seems to work really well. I also have taken melatonin. The valerian root really helps with anxiety. Sleep tight!

Mar. 01 2012 10:53 AM
Sharon Smith from Manhattan

I teach a movement based technique called the Sounder Sleep System® that addresses the stress of life and insomnia issues. The person who developed this system, Michael Krugman, will be teaching seminar in NYC April 7-8.
You should have him on your show. It is a great, simple system that teaches people how to create the optimum conditions for sleep in bed and during daytime hours. You can find out about it here,
Contact me for more info. Thanks.

Mar. 01 2012 10:53 AM
Ann from NYC

I know a number of people who ae using Melatonin to keep their tyoung chuildren to sleep. What is your opinion about this?

Mar. 01 2012 10:48 AM
ZC from NYC

Why are these studies always about "living longer". At my age, I want to live "better". And if that means taking aids for good sound sleep to feel rested and alert the next day, I wlll do so.

Mar. 01 2012 10:47 AM

How likely is it that folks with insomnia also have some other type of sleep disorder that that a sleep aid will not help with?

Mar. 01 2012 10:46 AM

Chamomile tea and Benadryl works for me.

Mar. 01 2012 10:46 AM

With regards to suggestions on the series overall, I'd love to hear more about sleep apnea. I'm pretty fit, exercise often, and follow a pretty awesome (vegan) diet, and yet I feel like I've woken up with a gasp before and have been wondering lately if it might be apnea-related.

Mar. 01 2012 10:45 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

I've tried EVERYTHING. There are lots of things that help a little bit sometimes, but I never found anything that worked consistently before I discovered Ambien.

Mar. 01 2012 10:45 AM

Brian is the best for skeptical health research reporting on the radio. Association does not equal causation and study design/analysis can skew results in such a significant way that it pays to consider alternative interpretations of studies like these.

Mar. 01 2012 10:45 AM
Jon Pope from Ridge, NY

Every over the counter sleeping pill I've ever tried (including melatonin) works the first couple of times but then it starts to make me agitated to the point that I'm tired but cant sleep. Why is that?

Mar. 01 2012 10:43 AM
barbara from upstate ny

I was always told by my medical people that lack of sleep is much more hazardous to the body than taking a pill to sleep.
So important to get rest.
I am not sure I agree with this study. A veteran of sleep issues. Finally sleeping with help of something.

Mar. 01 2012 10:43 AM
Laurence from Murray Hill

I looked at this paper- it seems like the control group were people with no sleep problems at all. We already know that not sleeping is bad for you, and insomnia itself may be an indication of poor health. Could your guest address this? (This also addresses the dose response- the more pills someone is prescribed, the worse they're already doing.)

(Brian's doing a nice job on this, btw.)

Mar. 01 2012 10:40 AM
Jane from Brooklyn

I smoke pot at night for this very reason. I sleep very well. I don't always remember my dreams, but I crash and wake up 8 hours later.

Mar. 01 2012 10:40 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

Great. I spent the first 30-some years of my life not sleeping. Now I've find something to help me sleep and it may kill me.

Mar. 01 2012 10:38 AM
bernie from bklyn

sleeping pills are designed to get you to sleep for 8 hrs. if you eat half of one does that mean 4hrs?

Mar. 01 2012 10:36 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.