4. Sleeping Pill Withdrawal - research study

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Here's research showing good news! Especially if you're one of the 15% of older women who feels dependent on sleeping pills.

The good news of this research is:  It's never too late!  A woman can decide to stop her sleeping pills, even if she's been taking them for years. Within 5 months, she will likely have found better sleep without pills, and a happier life too!

That’s the evidence presented in this well-designed study by a research team in Finland, in 2018. 

It's a study based on the work of a dedicated group of doctors and clinicians — sincere practitioners who want to help the many Finnish seniors dependent on sleeping pills. Apparently sleeping pills are a problem in Finland too.

Together, this group has developed an effective treatment program showing good results. Almost 40% of their participants were able to end sleeping pill dependence. 

Here's the beginning of their research paper. It explains the problem they work to solve: 

"Insomnia is a frequent problem among older individuals. Benzodiazepines and related drugs (“BZDA”) are recommended for short‐term treatment of insomnia only, but their long‐term use is widespread.

Chronic BZDA use in older adults is associated with an increased risk of adverse outcome such as balance difficulties, falling, cognitive impairment, dementia and increased mortality. “

Withdrawal from long‐term use of zopiclone, zolpidem and temazepam may improve perceived sleep and quality of life in older adults with primary insomnia

Ritva Lähteenmäki et al; Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2018


This study involved 89 research participants  — most were outpatients at a regional hospital in Finland. They had all beendiagnosed with 'primary insomnia'.

They were all 55 years or older. The eldest was 91.

All were chronic users of common sleeping pills:  zopiclone (Imovane), zolpidem (Ambien), and Temazepam (Restoril).

Each had taken these drugs in regular nighttime use, for more than one month. Many had taken these pills for years.

During the first month, participants were engaged in an active ‘withdrawal program’. They met regularly with doctors and clinicians who helped them to ‘taper off’ their medication.

Guided by this support, they gradually reduced their nightly dosage, week by week, until they had stopped the medication after one month.

Participants then continued in the study for another 5 months of follow-up.


Of the 89 participants, 34 were able to entirely stop sleeping pills. Many of the other 55 reduced their dose too, but researchers focused their study on those who were able to stop completely. What did they find?

The 34 people who had stopped sleeping pills told researchers their sleep was now ‘significantly’ improved.

They were falling asleep more quickly and they found it easier to get to sleep. On average, they were sleeping about a half hour longer. In other words, they were getting better sleep without the pills!

They also experienced less fatigue in the mornings, and had lower levels of daytime sleepiness too.

And those who stopped taking sleeping pills had less stress too. Interviews & questionnaires showed they now had ‘significantly’ lower stress levels than when they had first signed on for the program.

These participants also recorded higher levels of day-to-day happiness on the ‘life satisfaction’ scale. And they expressedgreater optimism about their future health.

It seems that by giving up sleeping pills, these participants were living with less stress, more satisfaction, greater optimism.


This study shows the power of natural restorative sleep -- sleep that's more effective if not distorted by a pharmaceutical.

The participants of this study had stopped taking sleeping pills, so they were now getting the full benefit of natural restorative sleep every night. As weeks passed, they were feeling less stressed and more optimistic.

Restorative sleep acts as a natural anti-depressant, reducing stress, lessening negative emotions, calming both mind & body. This is our process of nightly renewal -- more available to us when not impaired by unnecessary pharmaceuticals. 

To your natural happiness!

- Lucinda