Danger of regularly using sleeping pills?

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Question from Carole: After 3 years of Arimidex and increasingly impaired sleep (sweating 10 times per night), I am now resorting to sleeping pills and am concerned about doing so. I exercise (walk 30 km a week), eat exceptionally well, do not smoke, drink moderately, have 1 coffee a day and mainly drink herbal teas. What else can I do? I have reached a point of considerable distress.
Answers - Helena Schotland It's basically a lot of things we've already discussed.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. What's the danger of using sleeping pills regularly and depending on them if you get the benefit of a good night's sleep every night?
Helena Schotland There is a trade-off of dependence versus a good night's sleep, and it's different for every person. For some people, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. And in going through cancer therapy, it is imperative to get a good night's sleep.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. As you move through life, does the average person's sleep requirement increase or decrease?
Helena Schotland That's an interesting question. There have been a lot of studies on sleep all the way from infancy to old age. As we age, the total amount of sleep may stay the same; however, people's sleep becomes more disrupted. They may sleep the same amount, just over smaller chunks during the day. Some elderly people may go to sleep very early in the evening, wake up early in the morning and nap during the day, so your sleep can become less consolidated. There are a lot of medical issues that contribute to sleep consolidation (being able to sleep in 1 large chunk at night).

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Sleep Well: Healthy Habits for Good Rest featured Helena Schotland, M.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about ways to improve your sleep.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in January 2007.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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