Stilnox – Another Evil Sleeping Tablet
In the eve of the London Olympics, Australia’s Olympic athletes have been banned from using Stilnox, Rohypnol and Mogadon.
This action followed revelations of the Olympic Gold Medallist Grant Hackett, who had struggled with a dependency on the sleeping tablet Stilnox after being repeatedly prescribed the drug by Australian team doctors to help him sleep.
Dr Peter Larkins, a sports medicine expert, said Stilnox was prescribed as a “light weight sedative” and was popular amongst athletes for getting some sleep on planes and getting over jet lag, because it didn’t have hangover effects of lethargy.
According to Dr Brian Sando – who has attended every Olympics since 1980 – athletes should use relaxation techniques instead of sleeping pills because they could lead to dependency.
For this year’s Olympics a number of athletes were encouraged to keep sleep diaries and wore activity monitors to educate them on how best to develop good sleep practices.
Under the revised medical manual, there will be a new section dealing with “sleep and relaxation strategies”, including deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation instead of medications to help athletes sleep.
Stilnox is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for insomnia.
The main ingredient of Stilnox is zolpidem. It works quickly (usually within 15 minutes) and its hypnotic effects are similar to those of the benzodiazepine class of drugs.
In 2000, Stilnox was the first product containing zolpidem to be marketed in Australia. Since then it has also been marketed under other trade names including Dormizol, Stilnoxium and Stildem.
Beyond the issues of dependance and tolerance, short acting sleeping pills like Stilnox, have been implicated in hair-raising sleepwalking episodes where people drive their cars for hours or try to jump off buildings.
Those under the influence of this medication may seem fully aware of their environments, though they are still asleep. This can bring about concerns for the safety of the sleepwalkers and others.
In 2008 TGA imposed a warning on the product saying: “Zolpidem may be associated with potentially dangerous complex sleep – related behaviours which may include sleepwalking, sleep driving and other bizarre behaviours. Zolpidem is not to be taken with alcohol. Caution is needed with other CNS depressant drugs. Limit use to four weeks maximum . ..” (TGA, 2008)
Richmond player Ben Cousins was rushed to the hospital in 2010 after collapsing because of an accident overdose of sleeping pills. AFL club doctors have conceded there are growing concerns over the widespread use of sleeping pill Stilnox in the AFL.
AFL players are susceptible to overuse of sleeping pills, as they are often desperate for sleep after night games followed by early recovery sessions.
Stilnox has a potential for either medical misuse when the drug is continued long term without or against medical advice, or recreational use when the drug is taken to achieve a “high”, usually mixed with RedBull.
Chronic users of high doses are more likely to develop physical dependence on the drug, which may cause severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, if abrupt withdrawal from Stilnox occurs.
More effective long-term treatments for Sleeping Problems is to find the underlying problem and what causes sleeplessness.
A major concern with sleeping pills is that they don’t produce normal sleep.
They act more like inducing mini-coma than anything resembling sleep. The best way to rest and rebuild body and brain is still through natural sleep.
What you can do at home to help you sleep.
- Establish fixed times for going to bed and waking up (avoid sleeping in after a poor night’s sleep)
- Take daily exercise, such as 30 minutes walking or cycling, at least four hours before you’re planning to go to bed.
- Try to relax before going to bed – take a bath, drink warm chamomile, lavender or lemon balm tea every night before bed. These activities will be associated with sleep and will cause drowsiness.
- Maintain a comfortable sleeping environment (not too hot, cold, noisy or bright)
- Avoid napping during the day.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol within six hours of going to bed.
- Avoiding exercise within four hours of bedtime (although exercise in the middle of the day is beneficial)
- Avoiding eating a heavy meal late at night
- Only use the bedroom for sleep and sex.
- Don’t watch television, make phone calls, use computer, eat or work while you’re in bed.
- Don’t lie in bed feeling anxious about sleeping. Instead, get up and go to another room for a short period and do something else, such as reading or watching television, and then try again.
- Write a list of your worries and any ideas to solve them, then try to forget about it until the morning.
- Make sure that you have a comfortable mattress and pillow.
Natural Medicines To Help You Sleep Better
Sleep deprivation can lead to poor memory, mood swings, depression, racing thoughts, anxiety and irritability.
Those who have trouble sleeping may easily put on weight, have low work performance, and struggle to complete everyday tasks.
Due to its role as a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems, deficiency of magnesium can result in a wide variety of symptoms, including many of a neurological, neuromuscular or neuropsychiatric nature.
Physically, these may include lethargy, insomnia, tremors, and muscle spasms and weakness. Deficiency of magnesium is widespread due to prolonged stress and/or sleep deprivation.
In a vicious cycle, some substances popularly used to aid coping with stress (coffee, soft drinks, tea) may inhibit absorption or further enhance excretion of magnesium.
To help calm and relax the nervous system, and improve sleep quality, we recommend a Calming Support for Stress.
Flordis ReDormin contains organically grown, whole herb extracts of valerian and hops.The combination of theses herbs has been used for centuries to treat insomnia and sleeplessness.
Some people may lie in bed for hours tossing and turning, while others may fall asleep with no problem but have trouble staying asleep.
MediHerb Kava is an excellent herb to improve sleep quality and decrease the amount of time needed to fall asleep. It is a safe and effective treatment for people suffering from anxiety and muscle tension.
Kava studies have shown it to be an excellent natural alternative to sleeping pills, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Taken in the evening, it is an effective relaxant that will encourage a deep and peaceful sleep.
With no side effects and continued use shown to be safe and non-addictive, it is an excellent alternative to chemical drugs.
“Athletes banned from sedatives Stilnox, Rohypnol and Mogadon”, By Ben English and Neil Breen, The Daily Telegraph, July 03, 201212:00AM, www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/athletes-banned-from-sedatives-stilnox-rohypnol-and-mogadon/story-fndo48ca-1226415137066
Sleeping menace in the spotlight, Health Reporter Jordanna Schriever, July 02, 2012 10:00PM, http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sleeping-menace-in-the-spotlight/story-e6frea6u-1226415088014
Bachl, Matt (2008). “Stilnox blamed for Harbour Bridge death”. nineMSN News. Available at http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=381502
Zolpidem (‘Stilnox’), Australian Government, Department of health and Ageing, TGA, http://www.tga.gov.au/safety/alerts-medicine-zolpidem-071127.htm