Sleeping Pills Lead to Risk of Early Death? Study finds risk, but sleep expert criticizes it By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Feb 28, 2012 2:02 PM CST 5 comments Comments Study finds risk, but sleep expert criticizes it. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – A new study finds that taking even one sleeping pill over the course of a year increases the risk of early death, but a sleep expert was quick to jump on the study's flaws. Researchers at San Diego's Viterbi Family Sleep Center found that adults who took one to 18 prescription sleep aids over the course of one year were at a 3.5-times-higher risk of early death than adults who were not prescribed any sleeping pills. And the increased risk was five times higher for those who took three pills or more each week, CNN reports. But the control group did not experience sleep problems, and the study also failed to control for psychiatric disorders, says the sleep expert who was not involved in the research. "Their methodology was flawed and their control groups compare apples and oranges," he says. Another doctor who was not affiliated with the research admits the study is "flawed," but says it still "reminds us that sleeping pills are not without risks and should be used cautiously." Participants in the study who took sleeping pills were also found to have higher rates of asthma, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and high blood pressure.