HealthDay News — Middle-aged women who initiate sleep medications do not have significant improvement in their sleep disturbance compared with those who do not initiate medications, according to a study published online May 11 in BMJ Open.

Daniel H. Solomon, MD, MPH, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study involving a longitudinal cohort of racially and ethnically diverse middle-aged women who reported a sleep disturbance. A total of 238 women who started sleep medications were matched to 447 nonusers.

Sleep disturbance ratings were 2.7, 3.8, and 2.8 for difficulty initiating sleep, waking frequently, and early morning awakening, respectively, for medication users at baseline; the corresponding ratings were 2.6, 3.7, and 2.7 for nonusers. The researchers found that sleep disturbance ratings after one year were 2.6, 3.6, and 2.8 for difficulty initiating sleep, waking frequently, and early morning awakening, respectively, for medication users and 2.3, 3.5, and 2.5, respectively, for nonusers. The 1-year changes were not statistically significant, nor did they differ for medication users and nonusers. The results were consistent at two-year follow-up, with no statistically significant reductions seen in sleep disturbance for medication users versus nonusers.

“The current observational study does not support use of sleep medications over the long term, as there were no self-reported differences at one or two years of follow-up comparing sleep medication users with nonusers,” the authors write.


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One author disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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