If you take sleeping pills to help you get a good night’s sleep (something we hope you try to avoid), you may be falling asleep only because you expect to.
Say hello to the placebo effect.
In a new study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers re-analyzed the results of 13 clinical trials involving sleeping pills, amounting to more than 4,300 study subjects, to compare the drug’s actual effects with placebo effects. A placebo is something given to a patient which has no medicinal properties, but may work because the patient is TOLD that it will.
The researchers who wrote the scientific study hoped to determine how much of a sleep aid’s drug effect came from the drug itself, and how much is due to other factors such as the placebo effect. What they found was that the actual effects of the drugs themselves were questionable at best. In fact, after discounting the actual effects of the drugs, about half of the actually sleepiness came from the placebo response.
Given the laundry list of side effects of sleeping pills—and the fact that the pills themselves don’t seem to be doing much, anyway—these researchers recommend exploring therapeutic options for overcoming sleep problems, rather than visiting the pharmacy.