If you’re struggling with insomnia, you might want to think twice before you reach for over-the-counter sleep aids. Many of the drugs are labeled “non-habit forming”, but Consumer Reports reveals potential risks in taking them.
Although some ingredients are not physically addictive, there can be a risk of psychological dependency. A Consumer Reports national survey found 20-percent have taken over-the-counter sleep medication within a year and in that group, almost one in five took them daily. Most concerning: 41 percent said they took them for a year or longer.
At the time of their approval as over-the-counter sleep aids, there was not enough evidence to show that the drugs caused dependence so the label “non-habit forming” still remains.
The FDA tells Consumer Reports using a sleep aid for two weeks or less at the labeled dose makes it “…very unlikely that the consumer will become dependent on it.”
Over-the-counter sleep aids also carry warnings: they can cause serious side effects like next-day drowsiness, dizziness and confusion, and frequent use can increase the risk of dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease. If your insomnia is persistent, it’s time to see your doctor.
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