Sleep Meds and Dementia
Sometimes I’m blown away by the audacity of thinking you can safely introduce chemical agents in generalized form and dosage into the Rubik’s Cube of human physiology. Compromising even one biochemical reaction can affect dozens, hundreds or even thousands of related metabolic cascades. I mean, what could go wrong? Yes, often it’s minor and flies below the radar, but any foreign substance we ingest may disrupt us and/or harm us.
The most recent example comes from the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2019, where scientists demonstrated that frequent use of sleep medications is strongly associated with a greater likelihood of dementia in later life.
Over three thousand people, age 70-79, all of whom were cognitively healthy when the project began, were analyzed for the use of sleep medications over a fifteen year period. The results were shocking – those who used sleep medications regularly were 43% more likely to develop dementia. 43%!
Lead author Dr. Yue Leng from University of California San Francisco doesn’t say the drugs alone are causing the dementia; she says that they may be part of a syndrome including sleeplessness. But she does say, “Usually when people have sleep problems, they’re prescribed these medications by default. But few studies have looked into what the medications are really doing to their body and to their brain.”
How insightful and forward-thinking! Drugs that force body responses invariably will have some side effects – actually, they’re not side effects, they are effects. Whatever the intention, these consequences still occur and may exacerbate already existing conditions or create new ones.
It’s just a simple sleeping pill, you might think, and that is the point. All medicines are potentially hazardous, and carry their own risk/reward ratio, immediately apparent or manifesting over time. This is the reason that chiropractors are so determined to align with nature whenever possible – even Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said “Primum non nocere, first do no harm.”
And as Dr. Leng says, the prescription of such medicines is a knee-jerk, a default to commonly accepted treatment, regardless of the resources of the patient. Why not try meditation, exercise, hypnosis, BrainTap, nutrition, and of course chiropractic care, before opting for toxic drugs?
This research invites us to reconsider the jeopardy of our medical decision-making, and paves the way for a more organic methodology. Drugs are a mixed bag, and should be used only when conservative efforts have been exhausted. Chiropractors can offer alternatives that support healthy sleep patterns, not just battle insomnia. Adopt a wellness lifestyle, and enjoy a better overall quality of life.