Research: Sleep Aids and Wake Aids Might Not Work

A healthcare research firm is urging more study into use of drugs by third shift workers that are designed to keep them awake or help them sleep.

The Cochrane Library says it has looked at the available research into the use of several sleep-related drugs, and found that there’s no evidence they actually do much to help.

Cochrane is a global effort by scientists to sort through scientific papers on medical questions to get to the bottom of whether a treatment helps. The group gathered published studies examining the sleep aid melatonin and two drugs, modafinil and armodafinil, intended to keep sleepy workers alert.

Cochrane found that Modafinil and armodafinil may give a small reduction in sleepiness and a slight increase in alertness.  The problem, however, is that the drugs also come with the risk of side effects that range from a mild headache or nausea to serious skin disorders.  Cochrane says it’s unclear whether the drugs are actually more useful than a cup of coffee and a nap right before work.

Melatonin, meanwhile, helped daytime sleepers extend their snoozes by less than half an hour.  There wasn’t much evidence, however, that it helped them fall asleep any quicker.

Cochrane researchers say more trial are needed to determine the beneficial and harmful effects of these drugs.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

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