DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – Millions of Americans regularly take drugs to help them fall or stay asleep, a practice that experts say could be dangerous to their health.
A new study has found that nearly 8% of adults in the United States reported taking sleeping pills every day or most days, with use being more common among women, the elderly or people with lower incomes.
A data feed released Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Control (CDC) analyzed data on the use of sleeping pills among more than 30,549 U.S. adults.
The data was collected as part of the National Health Survey by interview, 2020.
The researchers defined sleeping pill use as taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication to help you fall asleep or stay asleep most of the day, or every day for the past 30 days.
They found that women were more likely to take sleeping pills than men, regardless of age group, race and income level.
Use of sleeping pills was also higher among the elderly, with 11.9% of people aged 65 and over reporting using a sleeping pill every night or most nights.
Use of sleeping pills decreased as household income increased.
“Previous research has found similar associations,” notes co-author and NCHS researcher Lindsey Black.
“This report is useful for documenting the most recent estimates of the prevalence of sleeping pill use among adults and confirming that these differences persist,” Black said.
Dr Nishi Popal, a psychiatrist and sleep specialist, said the results are concerning for several reasons.
Popal, who was not involved in the new study, explained, “Women are often misdiagnosed with sleep problems. I see it in my clinical practice, women can be diagnosed with insomnia while they actually have sleep apnea because the onset of sleep apnea is different.” in women compared to men.
Bhopal also found it troubling that the use of sleeping pills was highest among older people, although she did not recommend them for general use.
“Sleeping pills have many side effects, and older people are more vulnerable to the negative effects of these drugs. These include confusion, risk of falling, bone fractures, and they will even be more likely to develop cognitive problems. like dementia.” Popal explained.
Health effects of long-term use of sleeping pills
Experts have said sleeping pills can be beneficial when used for their intended purpose.
This can be beneficial for people who are experiencing severe stressors that make it difficult to sleep, such as a divorce, loss of a job, or extreme grief from the loss of a loved one.
“Sleeping pills can be really helpful in this setting, but using them for more than two weeks is not recommended,” Popal said.
Daily use of a sleeping pill can lead to problems such as tolerance, in which case the body needs a higher dose of the drug to have an effect.
It can also be addictive because stopping the drug causes withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures.
People can also experience rebound insomnia, which means they can’t sleep without medication.
And just like lack of sleep, continued use of sleeping pills can have serious health consequences.
Research has shown that older people who regularly take sedatives and sleeping pills are 5 times more likely to have memory and concentration problems, and 4 times more likely to suffer from daytime fatigue, sleepiness which affects performance in work or increase the risk of a traffic accident. .
Enjoy a good sleep
Bhopal recommends using hypnotics “for the shortest period, in the minimum doses required. We try to use them intermittently to support us while we work on good behavioral strategies and deal with other issues that contribute to their sleep problems.
These strategies include maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, exercising regularly, managing daytime stress levels, and limiting caffeine and alcoholic beverage consumption in the evening.
And for those who still have trouble sleeping, Bhopal recommends undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.
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