The problem with prescribing sleeping pills for older patients

This post was originally published on this website

It seems that everyone has advice about sleep these days, and we have become immune to it. “Avoid naps, caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime. Get exercise. Get out of bed if you can’t sleep. Turn off the TV and any electronic devices hours before bedtime. Enjoy a relaxing ritual. Keep to a routine.”

Please do all of these, because they actually work! Shifting your bedtime later to achieve sleep consolidation also works. In fact, there is an insomnia-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-I) that has shown dramatic benefits.

Here’s the problem. Many people come to their doctors asking for a sleeping pill because they don’t want to do any of the above. They want a shortcut. It’s sort of like the brief rise of olestra, the chemical they put in potato chips that tricked your body into not absorbing fat, so you could still eat all the potato chips you wanted. It was too good to be true for weight loss (not to mention the unfortunate GI side effects).

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