Sleeping pills ‘have a major placebo effect’

24 December

Up to 50 per cent of the benefit of taking sleeping pills actually comes from the placebo effect they have, according to a breakthrough study that has recently been published in the British Medical Journal.

Academics at the University of Lincoln discovered that interesting finding after conducting tests on the most common type of sleeping pills used by those who have trouble getting a good night’s sleep.

These drugs, which are known as Z-drugs, are so commonly used that that up to £25 million in prescriptions are generated in the UK alone.

This therefore casts some doubt into the overall effectiveness of such medication, with scientists concluding that maybe more should be done in promoting and investing in psychological treatments.

“Our analysis showed that Z-drugs did reduce the length of time it took for subjects to fall asleep, both subjectively and as measured in a sleep lab, but around half of the effect of the drug was a placebo response,” explained lead author and professor Niroshan Siriwardena, of the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Lincoln.

“Psychological treatments for insomnia can work as effectively as sleeping tablets in the short-term and better in the long-term, so we should pay more attention to increasing access to these treatments for patients who might benefit.”

Posted by Edward Bartel

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