Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Children and Sleep Deprivation. Are drugs to blame?

The BBC Panorama programme has recently (6th March 2017) broadcast 'Sleepless Britain', which concerned the problems created for children by sleep deprivation. It stated that sleep problems had tripled over the last 10 years.

It focused on the use of mobile phones and television screens, and also mentioned the consumption of unhealthy foods, sugar and fizzy drinks. Surprisingly, for the BBC, it also mentioned the 10-fold increase in the use an unlicensed drug, Circadin. It said that £13.5 million had been spent on this drug in 2015, a 10-fold increase in 10 years.

Circadin contains a synthentic form of the hormone, melatonin, that aids sleep. However, it is licensed only for the use of people over 55 years. It is not licensed for children, but doctors are given 'discretion' to use it with young people. Clearly, doctors are using this discretion. Yet at what cost to the health, and indeed the sleep, of our children? Typically, the BBC were not forthcoming on this, being satisfied to suggest that the drug was not very effective. The Livestrong.com website is more forthcoming about the side effects of Circadin.

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, sore throat, weakness, body aches or sweating. None of these are likely to increase sleep!
  • Stomach upset or weight gain, such as stomach pain or constipation, with vomiting, abdominal gas or bloating. Weight gain was mentioned in the programme as a cause of sleeplessness.
  • Jaundice. According to the European Medicines Agency, the drug can cause bile to accumulate in the blood, leading to jaundice.
  • Circadin cause mood changes - abnormal irritability, restlessness, nervousness, and hyperactivity.

Yet the most amazing side effect of Circadin is that it causes sleep difficulties!

                "Patients taking Circadin can experience sleep difficulties as a side effect of treatment. Insomnia symptoms may persist in certain patients, while other patients may experience increased drowsiness or fatigue throughout the day, explain health officials at the European Medicines Agency. Abnormal, vivid dreams can also cause patients to wake frequently throughout the night and can contribute to side effects of increased daytime tiredness. Sensations of dizziness that arise as a side effect of Circadin can affect a patient's ability to walk or stand normally. Patients should only take Circadin before bedtime and should avoid participating in potentially hazardous activities, such as driving a car, immediately after taking this medication."

Yet this drug is used for children who already have sleep problems. Yet it is well known that there are a large number of pharmaceutical drugs, taken for other conditions, that are known to cause sleeplessness. This received no mention from the BBC.  These include alpha blockers, beta blockers, statins, corticosteroids, ACE inhibitors, Angiotensin 11-receptor blockers, Cholinesterase inhibitors, antihistamines, glocosamine, chondroitin, and many others.

Many of these drugs are routinely taken by children, and are certainly a cause of the insomnia problem that the Panorama programme was seeking to cover. 

This is a pity, but unfortunately it is typical of a media that is unwilling, or too fearful to confront the pharmaceutical companies, and the damage their drugs and vaccines are doing to our health.