Thursday, February 05, 2015

How NOT to get enough sleep

It seems like sleep is in the news lately.  Just a few days after the recommendations for sleep duration were updated, I saw this article, about how using over-the-counter sleep aids such as Benadryl can actually increase your risk of getting dementia.

There had been a headline on this a couple of years ago, too, I think, but this one is a more comprehensive study.

Researchers tracked 3,500 seniors, who were participating in a larger study about aging. They found that within about seven years, participants taking the highest dose of anticholergenic drugs had a 54% higher risk of dementia. Plus, they found that the risk doesn't go away if you stop taking the medications; the damage cannot be reversed, even years later.
I do take the occasional Benadryl for my allergies, and don't mind too much if it helps me to sleep, since it seems like I often have more allergy problems around bedtime.  The study's authors do say that allergy sufferers should switch to Claritin, which I might consider, although I don't want to take a daily pill -- I only want to take it as needed.  I've had my experience with daily allergy medication, and when I quit I was absolutely miserable for weeks while my body built up its tolerance again.  I don't like being dependent on a drug if I can help it.

I am lucky, though, that I haven't had a hard time sleeping since I was a teen.  Except for the occasional extreme circumstance where something is really bothering me and keeps me up as a result, I can usually fall asleep pretty quickly once I turn out the light, so sleep aids have never been an issue for me.

In any case, I thought the article was interesting, given how much air time I've been giving sleep issues lately. What about you?  Do you use sleep aids or allergy medicine, and if so, do these findings impact you at all?

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