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Study says sleeping pills increase risk of auto accidents

Most people have probably had one of these nights. You’re lying in bed, tossing and turning. You can’t get to sleep. You’re thinking about everything you need to do the next day or running through all the things you didn’t get done that day. You’re exhausted, but your mind is running. Then, you remember the sleep aid medication your doctor prescribed. You pop a pill and drift off to sleep.

In the morning, you get ready, eat some breakfast and then get behind the wheel for your commute to work.

Are you able to drive safely?

That is the question researchers recently posed as they studied the effects of sleep aids the day after they were taken. The study found that taking a sleeping pill can result in up to a three times greater risk of being in a motor vehicle accident.

In general, the researchers concluded that the effects of the medications — such as Ambien and Restoril — stick around for a long time. When you wake up in the morning, the medication is still in your system and could affect your ability to drive safely. When you’re drowsy, your reaction time is not as sharp.

In all, over 8.5 million people use prescription sleep medications in the United States, according to NBC News. In addition, somewhere from 50 to 70 million people across the country do not get enough sleep or have a sleep disorder — such as sleep apnea — based on data from the Institute of Medicine.

So, the next time you take a sleep aid at night, it may be a good idea to consider an alternate form of transportation the next morning.

Do you still feel tired in the morning after taking a sleep aid at night?

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