Can’t survive without your Ambien? Sleeping pills are almost as common as Tylenol in today’s culture. Turns out those little pills that bring on much-needed shut-eye could cause more trouble than good. Newly released research finds that a dependency on sleep aids like Ambien, Restoril, and Oleptro (trazodone) have the potential to double a person’s risk of being involved in a morning car accident – even after the effects of the sleeping aid have worn off.
The Effect of Major Sleeping Pills on Driving Ability
The new study, conducted by the University of Washington’s school of pharmacy and published in the American Journal of Public Health, reviewed the medical and driving records of over 400,000 adult drivers enrolled in a health plan in the state of Washington. The people who took any of the three popular sleep aids had anywhere between a 25 percent and three times higher risk of getting into a car accident while behind the wheel.
Takers of Restoril had a 27 percent greater risk of being involved in a car crash; trazodone users had double the risk; and Ambien users were in the worst spot, being twice as likely as non-users of Ambien to be in a car crash.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has long issued warnings about sleeping pills. The FDA has recommended that makers of sleep aids reduce the recommended doses – and suggest that the lowest doses possible be prescribed – because the drugs can still be present in a person’s system in the a.m., interfering with morning driving and thereby increasing the chances of being involved in a car accident.
How do sleeping aids stack up to alcohol use? The risk estimates are equivalent to a BAC level of between 0.06 percent and 0.11 percent. The legal BAC limit in Michigan and across the nation is 0.08 percent.
Assessing Your Auto Accident Risk
This study was only conducted in the state of Washington. Over 8.5 million Americans take prescription sleeping pills and 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep deprivation or sleep disorders. The recommended sleep for adults in seven to nine hours nightly, but over 30 percent of adults get less, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you do depend on a sleep aid, it’s important to know that the study found that users of the identified sleeping pills stay sleepy. The effect will wear off over time, according to the researchers, but they also point out that perhaps people are just getting used to the side effects or compensating for them. That doesn’t mean they’re as alert as they could be. Over time, the risk of being involved in a car accident increases for users of sleeping aids – the drugs are present in the blood for a long time.
While impairment is likely to remain in the morning as a person heads to work, school, or wherever they’re going, sleep aids are reported to reduce a person’s reaction time while driving and their level of alertness. Ambien in particular has been identified as causing strange side effects like sleep walking and driving in the middle of the night with no recollection of it in the morning.
If you have been involved in an auto accident in Michigan because of someone’s use of sleeping pills, contact Femminineo Attorneys PLLC to speak with personal injury attorney David C. Femminineo about your case.