Modern classes of pharmaceutical sleep aids have fewer complications than those prescribed in previous decades, however, they are not without troubling side effects. Currently, the most common formulations prescribed for insomnia are selective GABA PAMs, such as Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata. While research is still being conducted as to the direct prolonged consequences of sleeping pill use, the evidence gathered thus far indicates a pattern of adverse effects.
Unlike benzodiazepines, such alprazolam, lormetasepam, and trizolam, GABA PAMs show a lower incidence of increased toleration with use, and a lower incidence of dependency. Patients who used benzodiazepines in the past developed a high tolerance to these drugs in as little as two weeks, meaning that higher concentrations of the drugs were needed to achieve the same effects. These drugs were also more addictive, and the withdrawal symptoms could be life-threatening, requiring emergency medical care.
This does not mean that the GABA PAMs, Ambien, Lunesta, or Sonata, cannot be abused, only that this generation of sleep aids takes longer for a patient to build tolerance, and that the potential for addiction is considerably lower. People who find that their current dose of these drugs no longer induces sleep as prescribed, should contact their physician to adjust dosages or switch medications.
Reports of other effects of GABA PAMs have indicated a detrimental effect to users’ quality of life. Many people complain of increased daytime drowsiness associated with sleep pills, some to such an extent that they cannot drive or operate heavy machinery without putting themselves and others at risk.
Ambien, in particular, is reported to cause sleepwalking and sleep eating, both of which can be particularly troubling. Family members report patients who are active during the night, moving about the house and engaging in activities without being aware of their surroundings, as if they are dreaming. Another danger lies in the purported tendency of these people to eat while sleepwalking. The neurochemical link is not established, but a clear pattern of increased appetite during the sleep cycle while under the influence of Ambien has been consistently reported as a dangerous side effect. Patients awake the next morning to find empty dishes and food containers, even evidence that cooking was performed. Some patients consume so much while asleep they they awaken vomiting.
Nighttime activities while under the influence of Ambien has been reported by thousands of users, who have no memory of what they did. The medical term for this is parasomnia, a behavior over which a person has no conscious control. While serious injuries have been reported and alleged due to parasomnias occurring with sleeping pill use, a definitive link has yet to be established in the majority of these cases. Doctors, pharmacologists, and product liability lawyers are studying this matter closely.
The amnesia associated with sleepwalking has also carried over to when patients are awake, as increased incidence of memory loss and cognitive deficiencies have also been reported with prescription sleeping pill use, GABA PAMs in particular.
As of yet, there has been insufficient evidence to launch a class action suit against the manufacturers of prescription sleeping pills. Pharmaceutical companies conduct extensive clinical trials prior to introducing their drugs on the market. None of the companies that manufacture sleeping pills revealed the potentially troubling and dangerous side effects listed above.
Persons who suffer from injuries while under the influence of prescription sleep aids should carefully document the events leading up to the event. This includes a complete history of sleeping pill use, including documentation contained in their medical records. This information should be submitted to a qualified professional dangerous drug attorney for review. A certified team of legal experts experienced in the issues and familiar with the legal precedents can determine if a claim of damages can be lodged against a drug manufacturer, a prescribing physician, or a pharmacy.
People who suffered detrimental impact on their quality of life due to the use of prescribed benzodiazepines, either through addiction or through other side effects, including memory loss, cognitive changes, daytime drowsiness, should also contact an attorney. Constitutional effects are also associated with this less common class of sleep aids. These include constipation, heartburn, headache, stomach pain, metabolic disorders, and uncontrollable tremors.
Pharmaceutical liability lawyers specialize in determining if a prescribed drug is the probable cause of an adverse event, or of an adverse effect on a person’s health and well being. The legal system exists to help those who suffer injury through no fault of their own. Obtaining professional legal counsel is the fist step in receiving compensation.