Perhaps Elon Musk could be the poster child for the damage that lack of sleep can do. In 2019, while working 120 hours a week, rarely leaving the Tesla factory and relying on Ambien, so he could squeeze in a few hours, he made some irrational decisions. “The combination of overwork, exhaustion, and Ambien was at least partly to blame for his self-destructive tweeting.” (Inc. Magazine) Tesla and Musk ended up each paying $20 million fine to the
SEC for erroneous tweets about privatizing Tesla. The damagingmimpact of lack of sleep – can certainly happen over time – but there can be some immediate impacts also – such as falling asleep at the wheel, weight gain and lack of ability to remember or process important details for home or work.
So, what are people doing to get sleep? One of the key things people are doing is relying on OTC and prescription medication. But, if you are having a tough time getting your Ambien prescription filled by your doctor, there may be a good reason. A study out of the University of Montreal and the University of Bordeaux found that after 3 – 6 months use of benzodiazepines increases risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 32% and more than 6 months of use increases risk by 84%.
Ariana Huffington’s book, The Sleep Revolution highlights the dangers of taking sleep medications as experienced by two well known personalities – Anna Kendrick and Julia Sommerfeld.
During Anna Kendrick’s 2014 appearance on Letterman – she repeated a story about taking Ambien before taking off on a flight. She said she remembered nothing after falling asleep and when she woke she discovered that she had recorded a 90 second video of her salad and had changed all her clothes – so that she was now wearing everything that she had packed in her carry on bag.
Julia Sommerfeld’s story was a little harder on her bank account. She said her “wake up “ call about using Ambien came after sleep-shopping $3000 worth of clothes from Anthropologie on her credit card at 2am.
Neither of these famous women remembered what they had done…and given the warning label on the Ambien bottle in 2014, it’s little wonder:
After taking Ambien, you may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know that you are doing. The next morning , you may not remember you did anything during the night….Reported activities include driving a car (sleep driving) making and eating food, talking on the phone, having sex , sleep walking.”
Another study done recently in Canada by professor Dr. Gardner from University of Dalhousie – studied the famous ‘blue pill (zopiclone). He said that “if you take it at 11 o’clock at night and drive at 10 am the next morning you are as impaired as someone who has had 2 shots of vodka and a blood alcohol level of 0.05 – 0.08”.
OTC medications are not much better!
Many people taking products like ZZZQuil – have reported adverse physical effects such as headaches and tremors. And, another commonly used medication is Benadryl. While it is primarily taken for allergies, prolonged use as a sleep aid has links to dementia.
For young people, relying on sleep aids can be very damaging in the long run. University of Michigan found teenagers who were prescribed sleeping pills were 12 times more likely to abuse them.
Relying on these medications is very tempting – especially after a night or two of no sleep. So, we once again find ourselves with the chicken and egg dilemma. When we don’t sleep, we drink more caffeine, eat more and are more emotional. While there may be times in your life, such as during significant emotional events (such as the loss of a loved one) where you need to have a little ‘sleep help’ be sure to consult your doctor. Discuss alternatives such as melatonin or CBD (without THC).
To learn more about sleep and its impacts on our brains and bodies check out our favorite sleep authors:
Next week read WF’s Sleep Like A Baby to discover the new routines and products helping us to get the right amount of Zzzzz’s.