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Placebo effect found with sleep pills

Margaret Jack  By Margaret Jack   |   Posted in Sleep Research   |   Last updated: Friday 28th December 2012

A significant percentage of the benefit of taking popular sleeping pills has been found to be a placebo-effect, claims a new medical study. The so-called “Z” drugs, including Ambien and Sonata, were analysed by researchers at the University of Lincoln, Harvard Medical School and the University of Connecticut during 13 clinical trials involving more than 4300 participants in sleep labs and elsewhere.

It was revealed that while taking the drugs did make participants fall asleep quicker, but around 50% of this was due to the placebo-effect. Elements such as sleep quality and after-effects – two key issues on the subject – were not included in the studies.

Sleeping pills are widely prescribed as a short term solution to insomnia, but are known to potentially have various negative effects such as dependence for sleep, memory loss and increasing the risks of daytime accidents due to drowsiness.

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