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A frightening study suggests patients who take fewer than 18 sleeping pills a year are more likely to die prematurely than those not on medication. The list of pills include benzodiazepines such as temazepam and diazepam, newer  sedative hypnotics zolpidem, zopiclone and zaleplon, and barbiturates and  sedative antihistamines.

According to EurekaAlert, the study found those prescribed sleeping pills were 4.6 times more likely to die during a two-and-a-half-year period compared with those not on the drugs. Those taking the lowest doses (four to 18 pills a year) had a 3.6 times higher risk of dying compared with non-users.