Health Tips The common, dangerous mistake you might be making with your sleeping pills

For young, healthy guys, taking over-the-counter sleeping pills every once in awhile isn’t a huge deal.

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The common, dangerous mistake you might be making with your sleeping pills play

The common, dangerous mistake you might be making with your sleeping pills

(Men's Health/Shutter Stock)
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Welcome to your daily roundup of important health news

Every day, an estimated 6,800 new peer-reviewed academic articles are published. That’s a whole lot of science to wade through—but don’t fret. We’ll do the legwork for you, each and every morning. Here’s your daily dose of the latest discoveries from journals, research institutions, and news outlets from around the world.

Snooze Safely
For young, healthy guys, taking over-the-counter sleeping pills every once in awhile isn’t a huge deal, as we previously reported. But lots of people are taking them much more frequently. According to a survey by Consumer Reports, nearly 1 in 5 people who took an OTC sleep aid within the last year took it daily. And 41 percent said they used the meds for a year or longer. The problem? Long-term use of some kinds of sleep aids have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. More acute side effects also include constipation, confusion, and next-day drowsiness.

Don’t Detox
We’ve already told you that a detox diet is the dumbest way to start the New Year. Here’s proof: A healthy, fit 47-year-old woman landed in the hospital after becoming confused, repetitively grinding her teeth, and then suffering a seizure. Doctors eventually diagnosed her with hyponatremia, a potentially life-threatening condition where your sodium levels are too low.

The probable cause? Taking an excessive amount of herbal remedies and drinking lots of fluids, doctors detailed in BMJ Case Reports. Since the woman didn’t drink quite as much water as has previously been shown to cause dangerously low sodium levels, the experts believe it’s possible the herbal medicine valerian root can lower that threshold—allowing hyponatremia to occur without excessive water intake.

Avoid Synthetic Pot If You Don’t Want to Become a Zombie
Back in the summer, New York City reported a “zombie” outbreak, in which 33 people were exposed to an unknown drug. They were slow to respond, stared blankly, and experienced intermittent periods of zombielike groaning and slow, mechanical movements of the arms and legs. Now, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that the drug responsible was actually an herbal incense product called AK-47 24 Carat Gold, which contained the synthetic cannabinoid AB-FUBINACA. That’s 85 times as potent as THC, the chemical in marijuana. 

Put Down the Bottle
Drinking too much might raise your risk of heart problems as much as well-established risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and obesity, a new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests. For instance, alcohol abused more than doubled the chances of both atrial fibrillation—an irregular heartbeat—and congestive heart failure, and increased the risk of heart attack by 45 percent. It’s possible that reducing problem drinking can help protect your heart, the researchers believe.

Join a Gym Without Breaking the Bank
If getting back in shape is on your resolution list this year, joining a gym can help you get started (though you can get a great workout with METASHRED EXTREME—the most intense fitness program from Men’s Health). But a membership can be costly. So the folks over at Washington Post have compiled a list of 10 simple tips to save some serious cash when you join up. Some tricks? Wait until the end of the month—any month—to sign up, ask for a price match, and check out hospitals and universities for cheaper facilities.

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