Sleeping Pills, Drowsy Driving, and Vehicle Crashes

Americans are exhausted. According to the Institute of Medicine, between 50 to 60 million people in this country suffer from some type of sleep disorder or sleep deprivation. The recommended number of hours per sleep required for adults is between seven and nine hours per night, but more than one-third of American adults get less than that every night. About nine million of them take sleeping pills in their quest for a good night’s sleep, but that activity, according to a recent study, raises their risk of being in a car accident. In fact, the risk is as high as having too much alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a car.

The three most popular prescribed sleeping aids are sold under the brand names of Ambien, Oleptro, and Restoril. Studies have found that drivers who take Restoril have a 27 percent higher chance of being in a vehicle accident than a driver not taking sleeping pills. Those who take Oleptro have a 91 percent chance of being in a car crash. Those drivers who use Ambien have a more than double the risk of being in a car accident than a driver not taking sleep aids.

Ambien has also been known to cause dangerous side-effects for users, such as sleepwalking and participating in activities they do not remember doing. One of the common activities is driving their vehicles, but not having any recollection of doing so when they wake up.

One of the main issues with taking sleeping pills is that the drug causes the user to still feel drowsy even after the sedative is supposed to have worn off. There is also evidence that these drugs have an accumulative effect on users, and the problem becomes worse the longer the person uses sleeping pills to fall asleep. Eventually, researchers did find that this increase does begin to decrease.

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