8.6M Americans Take Pills to Sleep
Use more common among women, older people
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Aug 29, 2013 6:46 AM CDT
Some 9 million Americans take sleeping pills.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – About 4% of Americans aged 20 and older—some 8.6 million of us—turn to prescription drugs like Lunesta and Ambien to catch a few winks, a study finds. In the first federal study on usage, researchers followed 17,000 people between 2005 and 2010. A quarter of them had enough trouble sleeping that they talked to their doctors about it, NBC News reports; nationwide, some 50 million to 70 million suffer sleep disorders or deprivation, officials say.

Pill use jumped as subjects got older; some 5% of forty- and fifty-somethings took the medications, as did 7% of people past 80. Some 5% of women used sleep drugs, versus just 3.1% of men; unsurprisingly, an expert notes that insomnia is more common among women. Highly educated people were also more likely to take the pills. "I think that there are people who don’t get enough sleep because they have responsibilities and jobs and expectations," says a neurology professor. Interestingly, use peaked at 4.5% during 2007-2008, at the height of the recession, NBC notes.

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Showing 3 of 10 comments
Aug 29, 2013 9:39 PM CDT
At night time, just lean in and whack your head against a wall real good. Knocking yourself out instead of taking pills will save you money AND eliminate articles like this one. Problems solved...
Aug 29, 2013 7:59 PM CDT
Having sex before going to sleep improves the chances of getting a good night's rest. With a partner, the odds are even better.
Aug 29, 2013 11:53 AM CDT
Get some cheap pot to put you to sleep; support your neighborhood hippie instead of pharma.