The Checkup: Your Sleeping Pill Works Because You Think It Does

Say hello to our old pal, The Placebo Effect.

• If you pop an Ambien every night to help you get some Zzzs, know this: your sleeping pill might seem like it’s working simply because you think it is. 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. As ScienceDaily reports, “This type of comparison enables researchers to determine how much of the drug effect comes from the constituents of the drug itself, and how much is due to other factors … like the placebo response.” What they found was that once the placebo effect was discounted, the actual effects of the drugs themselves were questionable at best. The pills, they found, did help people fall asleep faster, “but around half of the effect of the drug was a placebo response,” according to the study’s lead author. And there wasn’t enough evidence to show other benefits, like improved sleep quality and better function during daytime hours. 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.

• Well, this both fun and morbid. Men’s Health writes about a simple test you can do right now to find out how long you’ll live. Go head. Click over and do it. I’ll wait.

Want to lose weight? Get out of the car. A new study found that driving one mile less each day could make a big impact on your waistline. Read more here.

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