Study Finds Sleeping Pills Raise Crash Risk

Do you take a medication such as Ambien or Restoril to treat sleep difficulties? If your answer is “yes,” you may be placing yourself and other motorists at risk. On June 11, 2015, NBC NEWS reported that certain sleeping pills, such as Ambien, may double a person’s risk of a car crash – even after the effects of the drug have worn off. According to research, sleeping pills may increase the risk of a crash as much as driving under the influence of alcohol. Read on learn more about the findings.

A recent study looked at the medical and driving records of drivers who took one of the three popular sleeping pills: Ambien, Restoril and Desyrel. The study found that people who were on any of these sleeping aids were between 25 percent and three times more likely to be involved in an accident while driving.

“We found that each of the medications were associated with an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes,” said Ryan Hansen of the University of Washington’s school of pharmacy. The findings were published in the American Journal of Public Health. “These risk estimates are equivalent to blood alcohol concentration levels between 0.06 percent and 0.11 percent,” Hansen’s team wrote.

For Ambien Users

Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative and a hypnotic, which affects chemicals in the brain that cause insomnia. The makers of Ambien warn that the drug can impair thinking and reactions. Users are warned that the drug can make people groggy the morning after taking the drug, especially if they take the extended release tablet, or are female.

Users are warned to wait at least four hours until they are fully awake before doing anything that requires them to be alert. If a person woke up at 7:00 a.m., that means they should wait until at least 11 a.m. before driving. Patients are warned NOT to take Ambien if they have consumed alcohol “during the day” or just before bed. Ambien is not for people with a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

Sleeping Pills Increase Risk of Crash, DUI

The study, led by Hansen, found people who took Restoril were 27 percent more likely to be involved in a crash. Those who took Desyrel had nearly double the risk. The highest risk went to Ambien users, who were more than twice as likely as non-users to be involved in a crash. These three drugs stay in the blood for a long time, research shows. They not only increase the risk of a crash, but they increase the risk of a DUI. The medications also increase the risk of waking in the middle of the night and driving without knowing it, and waking up in the morning and being impaired by the medication as they drive to work.

Were you arrested for a DUI involving sleep medications? If so, don’t hesitate to contact Orange County DUI Attorney, Virginia L. Landry to discuss your case for free!

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