Medical News Today reported the finding that medications are known as nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic drugs, a class of sleeping medications that includes Lunesta, Sonata, and Ambien increase the risk of falls and hip fractures. The scientists discovered that the risk for hip fracture was greater for the residents taking a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic drug. The benefits do not outweigh the risks.
The finding came from new research conducted by experts from Harvard Medical School, led by Sarah D. Berry, M.D., M.P.H.
"It is important to understand the relationship between sleep medication use and injurious falls in nursing home residents," the experts wrote. A previous study demonstrated that nursing home residents with dementia are three times more likely to have an injurious fall when they take drugs to treat depression."
The authors said:
"The risk for hip fracture is elevated among nursing home residents using a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic drug. New users and residents having mild to moderate cognitive impairment or requiring limited assistance with transfers may be most vulnerable to the use of these drugs."
When prescribing sleeping pills to nursing home residents, doctors should take caution, the researchers added. They concluded :
"Residents, staff, and nursing home administrators need to collaborate to create a culture change within the nursing home that increases daytime activity, improves social engagement, avoids daytime naps, and minimizes awake time in bed for residents. Physicians must also have amore active role to ensure that sleep quality and structure are not impaired by treatable medical or psychiatric conditions and that other sleep disorders commonly seen in the frail elderly (eg, central sleep apnea) are promptly diagnosed and treated."