The Male vs. Female Sleeping Pill Controversy

Sleeping PillApproximately 50 to 70 million Americans struggle with sleep problems and insomnia and one in ten have turned to prescription sleeping pills in a desperate attempt to get some shut-eye. These are some troubling statistics, especially if you consider the fact that taking sleeping pills even in small amounts is correlated with a 35 percent increased risk of cancer and a four times increased likelihood of dying early!

The Many Side Effects of Sleeping Pills

If that weren’t bad enough, sleeping pills come with a bevy of potential side-effects including: constipation, burning and tingling extremities, dizziness, headache, heartburn, weakness, uncontrollable shaking, dry mouth, diarrhea, rash, vomiting, hives and blurred vision…to name a few. Although sleeping pills are dangerous for both genders, women need to take extra caution when considering them because they have a dramatically different effect on women than they do on men.

Research Findings on Sleeping Pills


Past studies have found that woman react to alcohol, anesthesia, aspirin, cocaine and tobacco differently than men. The reason for this is that the male and female kidneys, liver and gastric enzymes perform differently. Also, some aspects of the female anatomy result in an enhanced ability to absorb certain drugs, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Recently, researchers decided to investigate if women also metabolize and react to sleeping pills differently, and they were shocked to find out just how large of a difference there is between the genders when it comes to the metabolism of sleeping pills.

Men and Women – Sleep Problems by Gender?

The researchers found that 15 percent of women would be too impaired to drive a car eight hours after taking zolpidem (the active ingredient in many sleeping pill), whereas  only 3 percent of men would be considered too impaired. They also found that women have a higher likelihood of suffering from temporary memory loss after ingesting the drug and concluded that woman simply don’t process the drug the same way as men. According to Dr. Peter Rice of the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences:  “Men have higher testosterone levels than women, which makes them (men) metabolize it more rapidly. So if women take that 10 milligram dose (they) will have a higher level.”

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If you are woman and you are suffering with sleeping problems or insomnia, it is pertinent that you ask your doctor for a detailed list of risks associated with taking sleeping pills before even considering taking them. This is especially important if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.  Also, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning that women should be prescribed lower doses of sleeping pills that contain zolpidem, so if you do decide to take the drug, make sure your doctor is prescribing you the lowest dose possible.

Sleep Problems and Insomnia

If you are suffering with sleeping problems or insomnia, there are natural methods that you can take which won’t put your health at risk and they should be yours first choice, regardless of your gender. First off, you should make sure that your bedroom is dark, cool and quite—all of which contribute to a restful night’s sleep. You should also try to stick to a regular sleep schedule and avoid taking naps. In addition, you should avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine at least 8 hours before bedtime and avoid stimulating activities such as watching TV, using the computer, playing video games and exercising 2 hours before bedtime. You may also want to consider keeping a sleep journal and jotting down the details of your day including what you did and what you consumed to see if there are any connections. If all else fails, consider drinking a relaxing herbal tea or talking to your healthcare practitioner about taking a melatonin supplement until you can get your sleeping back on track.