Prescription sleep aids don’t outperform doing NOTHING at all

If you’re one of the many people still struggling with sleep problems that emerged during the pandemic lockdowns, I urge you to avoid resorting to prescription drugs to help get you back on track.  

For one, they come with a terrible slew of side effects.  

Second, as a new study just found…the drugs don’t work any better than doing absolutely NOTHING at all! 

Fortunately, as I’ll explain in a moment, you do have one time-tested and science-backed way to put an end to all the tossing and turning at night.  

And it goes right to work, naturally, in your brain to induce the relaxation needed for deep, long-lasting sleep.

Zero difference in sleep quality or duration  

For this new study, researchers enrolled almost 700 women, with an average age of 50 years. Upon enrollment, all the women reported experiencing sleep problems, but none of them relied on prescription sleep aids for help. (Of course, trouble sleeping at this time of life in women [and men] is very common, as changing hormone levels can wreak havoc on your natural circadian rhythm.)  

The women also answered an initial survey about the types of problems they experienced. Next, the researchers grouped the problems into three categories: 

  • Difficulty falling asleep 
  • Frequently waking during the night 
  • Waking up early 

The researchers then scored these three sleep problems from one point (for no difficulty on any night of the week) to five points (for difficulty on five or more nights of the week). 

Over the next two years, about 200 women from the initial group began using prescription medications to address sleep problems. The drugs the women took included benzodiazepines and the so-called “Z” drugs for sleep—including eszopiclone, zaleplon, and zolpidem. (But these drugs come with serious side effects, including potential memory loss, mood changes, unusual behavior [like driving a car, eating, or having sex while still asleep], and even suicide.) 

Then, the researchers compared sleep scores—after one and two years—between the women who began taking sleep aids and those who didn’t.  

It turns out, at the one-year check-in, BOTH groups of women experienced similar sleep problems. In fact, more than 70 percent of all the women reported disturbed sleep at least three nights per week.  

Specifically, women who took sleep medications had the following average scores: 

  • 2.7 for difficulty falling asleep 
  • 3.8 for frequently waking during the night 
  • 2.8 for waking up early 

The women who did NOT take sleep drugs scored about the same (and even slightly better!) at:  

  • 2.6 for difficulty falling asleep 
  • 3.7 for frequently waking during the night 
  • 2.7 for waking up early  

Simply put, these findings indicate there was ZERO improvement in sleep quality or duration for the women who did take drugs after one and two years. In fact, women who did NOT take the drugs scored slightly better! So, if you’re still struggling to get your sleep back on track, this study certainly suggests that prescription sleep aids aren’t the answer. 

That’s why I often suggest giving the ancient practice of aromatherapy a try. It works right in the brain to help you fall—and stay—asleep…  

The REAL solution for healthy sleep 

Aromatherapy has been effectively used for thousands of years to treat a number of ailments—including depression, high blood pressure, and migraines. And it’s finally starting to get the attention it deserves from the scientific community. Especially when it comes to treating insomnia and stress…   

The practice involves applying essential plant oils (the same kinds of oils used to make fragrances) directly to your skin through a carrier oil (like organic coconut oil), or inhaling them through a mist diffuser.     

Applying the oils directly to your skin allows them to travel to your brain in two ways…    

First, you’ll inhale some through your nose. And the upper nasal passages connect directly into the olfactory centers at the front of the brain. Second, you’ll absorb the oils through your skin, where they enter your bloodstream and travel to the brain.    

When the plant compounds in the oils reach your brain, they signal you to relax, fall asleep, and best of all…to STAY asleep.   

If you choose this method, apply a few drops of the oils directly to your skin at these spots:    

  • under your nose   
  • on the sides of your nose   
  • under your chin   
  • at the base your ear lobes   
  • under your jaw   

And as I often report, research shows these plant oils are the most effective for supporting sleep:   

  • Chamomile   
  • Lavender   
  • Limonene   
  • Orange   
  • Peppermint   

I personally like to apply a combination of all of these oils, blended with vitamin E in organic coconut and eucalyptus oil, directly onto my skin shortly before, or right at, bedtime. You can also apply them any time during the day to promote calm and relaxation!   

To learn about how to get the best sleep of your life without resorting to pills, especially as the days begin to get shorter and darker this fall, check out the current issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures(“Beat the Autumn blues with this nutrient duo”). If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.


“Prescription medications for sleep disturbances among midlife women during 2 years of follow-up: a SWAN retrospective cohort study.” BMJ Open 2021;11:e045074. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2020-045074