A recent survey conducted by Consumer Reports has found that 44% of Americans are “problem sleepers,” having trouble sleeping at least 8 nights a month, and most of them are turning to sleep medications to fix the problem.
The April 2008 survey included 1,466 adults and asked participants how well they slept the night, week, and month before participating in the survey. Key findings of the survey include:
* Almost one in five Americans took prescription or over-the-counter medicines at least once a week to help them sleep.
* 5% used sleep medications every night of the previous month to help them sleep.
* 63% of those who took sleep medications experienced side effects, and 24% became dependent on the sleep medications they used.
* 38% of the respondents who said they had taken sleep medication the previous month had been taking the medication for more than 2 years.
“What people don’t realize is these medications can pose a host of side effects including daytime drowsiness, even bizarre behavior like sleep-walking, sleep-eating, and sleep-driving. There are alternative treatments, such as sound machines, that may be quite effective, yet pose no risks at all,” says Todd Marks, senior editor at Consumer Reports.
The full survey is featured in the September issue of Consumer Reports.
More information on sleep medications can be found in the July/August issue of Sleep Review.