Catching some zzz’s with Z-drugs? You might want to reconsider

Dr Ilan Matok heads the pharmacoepidemiology research unit in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s School of Pharmacy, and directs research evaluating the safety of medication. Their research was recently published in Age and Ageing.

Insomnia is a very common medical complaint, and increases with age. Patients with insomnia often report increased daytime fatigue, confusion, anxiety, and depression. While insomnia can have a significant negative impact on quality of life, a recent study highlights the need for careful consideration in the use of sleeping medication to manage this condition, especially among older adults.

It is widely recognized that the use of traditional “benzodiazepine” type sleeping medication (e.g. nitrazepam), increase the risk of fractures and falls in older adults. However, less is known about the safety of “non-benzodiazepine” sleeping medication, otherwise known as “Z-drugs” (e.g zopiclone). In fact, these drugs have been marketed as safer than benzodiazepine medication, and are often perceived as such by clinicians and patients alike. Continue reading

Perchance to sleep: ageing and circadian rhythm

Kirstie Anderson is Project Leader at Newcastle University’s Clinical Ageing Research Unit, for the ICICLE Sleep Study.sleepy

Sleep is a biological imperative, famously described as “of the brain, by the brain and for the brain.” In young and middle aged volunteers, sleep restriction can be shown to adversely affect memory formation, consolidation and mood. Sleep disorders including insomnia, obstructive sleep apnoea and restless legs all increase in prevalence with age but the effects of disturbed sleep in the oldest age groups are still poorly understood. Sleep becomes increasingly fragmented, although total sleep time does not change significantly and there is weakening of the circadian rhythm which is likely to be both biological and environmental. Continue reading