Those who see their primary care doctor about insomnia may not get a referral to a sleep specialist—and are often treated with medication. No referral is needed to schedule your consultation with The Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona, where you enjoy access to three sleep specialists, a physician assistant with a Masters in Sleep, a clinical psychologist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, and teams of respiratory therapists and medical assistants. Voted “Top Doc” in the Phoenix area for six years straight, we are the Face of Sleep Medicine in the Phoenix area and proud to connect you with a sleep doctor who can properly help you achieve quality sleep regardless of your sleep disorder. As an outcome-driven clinic, your consultation is exclusive with a sleep specialist who diagnoses first in order to determine testing and treatment plans.

According to a recent article in BMJ Open, a long-term prescription medication used to treat insomnia does not help. The study specifically considered “middle-aged women,” a very typical demographic to suffer from insomnia (as women have insomnia nearly twice as often as men). The researchers found that there was “no difference in sleep quality or duration” when comparing those who took medication for insomnia and those who didn’t for 1 – 2 years. The data from clinical trials did find, unsurprisingly, that medications can work in the short-term for up to six months on average. However, insomnia is a chronic condition in many cases and a tolerance to “sleep meds” can develop. Medications to help a person sleep should only be used for short-term instances, such as helping overcome jet lag, because these drugs are not meant to be used as a chronic solution. Most insomnia medications include benzodiazepines and Z-drugs such as zolpidem, eszopiclone, and zaleplon, along with additional agents used off-label for insomnia like drugs used to treat depression or anxiety.

Seeing a Sleep Clinic for Insomnia

The researchers were interested in how effective the drugs were in treating insomnia long-term for the most common type of patient. Each volunteer was part of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), half were white, and the average age was 49.5. The definition of “sleep disturbance” for the purpose of the study included difficulty in falling asleep, trouble waking up early, and frequently waking up during the night. The participants needed to report such difficulty at least five nights per week.

In total, 238 women began using long-term medication during the study and 447 did not. The sleep disturbance ratings were comparable amongst both groups at the start of the study. However, by the end of the first year, there were no “statistically significant” differences between the groups—this was also the case at the end of the second year. As an observational study, the researchers noted that only correlation can be established (not causation). Some of the women were current or former smokers while 20 percent were “moderate to heavy drinkers” as well, and both factors can impact sleep.

Additionally, the data on prescription medications were only taken once or twice per year. There maybe have been instances in which the “medication group” members were not taking the medications. Still, the researchers claim, “Sleep disturbances are common and increasing in prevalence. The use of sleep medications has grown, and they are often used over a long period despite the relative lack of evidence.”

What to Do About Sleep Disorders

If you have or suspect you have, any type of sleep disorder including insomnia, it is important to work with a sleep specialist in Phoenix. This will provide the best, safest, and most effective avenue for treating or managing sleep disorders and achieving the quality sleep you deserve. Many sleep disorders are common, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). However, this does not mean that a sleep disorder is benign. Lack of quality sleep is connected to a wide range of other ailments from strokes to heart disease.

Get started on your journey to better sleep today by connecting with the leading sleep physician in Phoenix. The Insomnia and Sleep Institute is where you will find the care you deserve. As a sleep clinic, not a sleep lab that only performs testing, we are your home for all sleep-related needs. Contact The Insomnia and Sleep Institute today to schedule your consultation by calling the office or simply fill out the online form.