Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sleeping pills owe half their benefits to placebo effect, study finds

Date:
December 18, 2012
Source:
University of Lincoln
Summary:
Half of the benefit of taking sleeping pills comes from the placebo effect, according to a major new study.

Half of the benefit of taking sleeping pills comes from the placebo effect, according to a major new study published in the British Medical Journal.

Related Articles


Researchers re-analysed results from more than a dozen clinical trials of the most common type of sleeping tablets, known as Z-drugs (non-benzodiazepine hypnotics).

These drugs are frequently used in the UK and USA as a short-term treatment for insomnia with almost 25m worth of prescriptions handed out in Britain each year. However, some health experts have questioned whether the benefits of Z-drugs justify their side effects, which can include memory loss, fatigue and impaired balance.

Questions have also been raised about the validity of published research into the effects of these drugs based on trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies themselves.

Academics from the University of Lincoln, Harvard Medical School and University of Connecticut conducted a meta-analysis of data from clinical trials of Z-drugs comparing drug effects with placebo effects. This type of comparison enables researchers to determine how much of the drug effect comes from the constituents of the drug itself, and how much is due to other factors (like the placebo response or regression to the mean).

They used data submitted by pharmaceutical companies to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of new products. This included 13 clinical trials containing 65 different comparisons and more than 4,300 participants.

The FDA collates results from both published and unpublished studies, enabling researchers to avoid common types of bias (such as reporting bias) which can undermine other research based on sponsored trials.

Their findings, published in this week's British Medical Journal (17th December 2012), indicate that once the placebo effect is discounted, the drug effect is of 'questionable clinical importance'.

Lead author Professor Niroshan Siriwardena, from the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Lincoln, said: "Our analysis showed that Z-drugs did reduce the length of time it took for subjects to fall asleep, both subjectively and as measured in a sleep lab, but around half of the effect of the drug was a placebo response.

"There was not enough evidence from the trials to show other benefits that might be important to people with sleep problems, such as sleep quality or daytime functioning.

"We know from other studies that around a fifth of people experience side effects from sleeping tablets and one in one hundred older people will have a fall, fracture or road traffic accident after using them.

"Psychological treatments for insomnia can work as effectively as sleeping tablets in the short-term and better in the long-term, so we should pay more attention to increasing access to these treatments for patients who might benefit."

He said future studies of sleeping tablets should investigate a broader range of outcomes, not just time taken to fall asleep, and that pharmaceutical companies should be more transparent in disclosing results from their studies so that researchers can independently analyse their results.

The paper 'Effectiveness of non-benzodiazepine hypnotics in the treatment of adult insomnia: meta-analysis of data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration' was published in the British Medical Journal on 17th December 2012.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Lincoln. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. B. Huedo-Medina, I. Kirsch, J. Middlemass, M. Klonizakis, A. N. Siriwardena. Effectiveness of non-benzodiazepine hypnotics in treatment of adult insomnia: meta-analysis of data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. BMJ, 2012; 345 (dec17 6): e8343 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e8343

Cite This Page:

University of Lincoln. "Sleeping pills owe half their benefits to placebo effect, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121218121259.htm>.
University of Lincoln. (2012, December 18). Sleeping pills owe half their benefits to placebo effect, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121218121259.htm
University of Lincoln. "Sleeping pills owe half their benefits to placebo effect, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121218121259.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins