Sleeping Pills Increase Death Risk?

New study finds link between sleep medication and increased risk of death.
2:06 | 02/27/12

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Transcript for Sleeping Pills Increase Death Risk?
There is a major new study out tonight that finds a link between sleeping pills and an increased risk of death but we wanted to know more about this especially since so many million Americans. Take sleeping pills especially women here's ABC's doctor Richard -- Today's headline is shocking. Over two years people who took sleeping pills were at least three and a half times more likely to die. Of all causes than those who didn't take these pills it's news -- will hit home for the 10% of Americans who took a sleeping pill at least one time in the past year. I would rather not be on day. -- show me some -- it just seems she would never go way one concern sleeping pills could delay a critical diagnosis. The higher death rates seen in in people using sleeping pills. May well reflect the diseases that they have which bring the insomnia about. Insomnia is not a disease it's usually a symptom and -- be the first symptom of something more serious. Like heart disease fluid backing up in the chest cavity can wake you up. Diabetes. Getting -- go to the bathroom can be an early warning -- Asthma breathing difficulties can make -- hard to come by. Even cancer hormone rule changes in unexplained pain can keep you up -- Sleeping pills are powerful. They act on the same part of the brain that valley -- quieting activity. And Ambien and drugs like it have been linked to worrying side effects like sleep eating and sleep driving. When night after night and for our true 34 months or whatever. The patient can't sleep that is time to go have another look. So if you can't sleep this is the kind of wakeup call don't just ask for prescription you need to look to see why you can't sleep. And short term long term use any conclusions well short term is fine -- if you're having long term insomnia it's like a mystery you have to solve. You know I put all kinds of information on ABC news that come about insomnia really important look at it could be here early warning system something else that's thank you rich.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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