The Overlooked Hazard of Prescription Sleep Meds

A single pill may cause more falls in hospitalized individualls than aging, delirium, insomnia or cognitive impairment, according to a new report.

Patients who were prescribed Ambien to help them sleep saw a four-fold increase in their risk of falling, according to researchers from the Mayo Clinic.

As a result of these findings, Mayo is beginning to phase out Ambien use in their facilities, says Timothy Morgenthaler, chief patient safety officer.

“We calculate that for every 55 patients who received [Ambien], there was one additional fall that may have been avoided by not administering the drug,” he says in a press release.

According to Morgenthaler, because the study didn’t consistently track what time of day people were falling, it’s difficult to say whether or not the tumbles were the result of sleep-walking—a sometimes-cited side effect of Ambien. However, based on several test cases, he says that nocturnal falls appeared to be more common.

Falls pose particular risk for elderly

One in 55 may not sound like much, but if that one person is a senior, a fall could mean the difference between life and death (or, serious injury).

Falls are the number one cause of injury death for people age 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Unlike many of the other ailments that afflict the elderly, death rates from falls have increased over the past ten years.

How to obtain a drug-free doze

According to Morgenthaler, Mayo plans to start switching out sleeping pills for non-pharmaceutical methods of helping patients catch some Zs.

There are a variety of drug free techniques to help struggling insomniacs get a better night’s sleep.

“Popular Prescription Triggers Tumbles in the Hospital” originally appeared on

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By Anne-Marie Botek, Editor


Nimue Pendragon

I would have thought that was rather obvious.

John S.
Past Member 4 years ago

How can it be overlooked when it's on all the warnings?

Jennifer C.
Past Member 4 years ago


Tania S.
Tania S4 years ago

Interesting. Happy I am not dependent on sleeping meds.

Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

Don't depend on drugs

Bonnie M.
Bonnie M4 years ago

Sadly, we live in a pill-popping society. There are too many insomniacs in this world. I am on the list and I agree with those who suggest meditation, reading and try to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
We all have different ways to deal, to cope with insomnia. Emotional, mental and health issues can keep one awake. However, now and then, a sleeping aid may be the only answer to get some much needed sleep.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W4 years ago


Summerannie Moon
Summerannie M4 years ago

Statins for me are the pits, i have problems with the muscles esp in my thighs and the pain never ceases.Its always there either lowish grade or fierce, there is never an hour that goes by that its not 'killing' me. Then I was advised to take Ezetrol....'no statins in it', 'they said', now a few months down the track and hang on.............. the muscles are sorer than ever! Good one. These pains prohibits me more often than not, to do exercise.

Now what? If I can find something to take that 'marries' the other drugs and Im not so sensitive too, it would be good. I am not the same person I was 3 or so years ago. Now add this to fibro and its a great mix! Drugs! they drive me bonkus b/c I am so hypersensitive to them.

Donna Ferguson
Donna F4 years ago