18th February 2013, 12:08pm  (updated 19th February 2013, 12:19pm)
Insomnia sufferers needed for new study into sleeping pill risks
A clock at night Insomnia sufferers are being invited to take part in a new scientific study which will help health experts better understand the potential risks of taking sleeping pills.

Researchers from the University of Lincoln are exploring whether people who take common types of sleeping pills to nod off at night could be more likely to have accidents the following morning.

Some studies have made a link between taking sleeping tablets and heightened risk of suffering a fall or being involved in a road accident the next day. It is believed this may be due to the effect of the drugs on balance and cognition (thought processes).

The Lincoln researchers want to hear from people in the Lincolnshire region who have suffered from sleeping problems several nights a week for three months or more. This can include insomnia sufferers who are not taking sleeping tablets, as well as those who have a prescription from their GP.

Dr Simon Durrant, from the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln, said: “Insomnia affects around a third of adults in any one year and one in ten of us will suffer from chronic insomnia, which can have a profound impact on quality of life.
“Doctors commonly prescribe sleeping pills to sufferers but like many drugs, there are side effects to weigh up alongside the benefits. It has been reported that people who take sleeping pills at night could be at greater risk of suffering falls or being involved in road accidents the following day, but we need to carry out more research to really understand what the dangers might be.
“This study will help us better understand the risks. Research of this type is important in helping doctors to decide what the most suitable types of treatment are for insomnia.”

To take part, volunteers should be aged between 18 and 60 and have experienced difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep at least three nights a week for at least three months. People who work night shifts unfortunately cannot take part.

Volunteers will be invited to meet a researcher in the Sleep and Cognition Lab in the School of Psychology on the University of Lincoln’s Brayford Pool campus. After filling out a short questionnaire, some will be asked to take home and wear a special watch which records their body movements. This can tell the researchers what times they were awake, and how active they were.

Volunteers will then be invited back to the University a few days later for a final questionnaire and some simple tests which assess balance and cognition. The results will help to inform the research of the School of Psychology and the School of Health and Social Care, whose work on insomnia has already helped to shape the prescribing practices of GPs at regional and national level.

For more information on this study, contact Fiona Togher on ftogher@lincoln.ac.uk or call 01522 837731. You can read more about the work of the Sleep and Cognition Laboratory at:  http://sleep.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/
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