A survey taken in 1999 showed that about 20% of men and 30% of women in the United States use some form of medication in order to fall asleep. About half of the drugs used in a course of a year were reported to be over the counter medicines.
Between 2005 and 2010, about 4 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 and older popped popular prescription drugs such as Lunesta and Ambien in the previous month, say government researchers who tracked 17,000 people to their homes and peered into their medicine cabinets.
“They told us they had difficulty getting to sleep, or they were waking up and couldn’t get back to sleep,” said Chong, whose study is based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
In 2008, market research from Thomson Reuters found that sleeping pill prescriptions had tripled among people younger than 45. The new study offers the first look at how many people are actually taking them, Chong said.
In the new report, sleeping pill use started climbing among people in their 40s and 50s, with at least 5 percent resorting to the drugs. It was highest among those with more education — and among women, with 5 percent reporting taking the pills, compared with 3.1 percent of men, the authors found.
The availability and convenience of various sleep medications in the market has caused many insomnia sufferers to rely on these.
However, these are only quick fixes that only provide a temporary solution to insomnia. What’s more is that constant use of sleep drugs can result in addiction.
The Good News …
The good news is that it is possible to stop taking insomnia medication, and still be able to sleep at night. Of course, the first step to doing this is to stop taking medication to get to sleep. Next is to treat the problem itself.
The difficulty with sleep medication is that it treats the symptoms and not the cause of insomnia. Effective treatment of the condition can only be done through psychological and behavioral techniques, not through a pill.
Changing sleep habits (also known as sleep hygiene) can play a big role in being able to sleep without the use of medication. Proper sleep hygiene includes practicing healthy sleep habits such as:
- Having a regular sleeping and waking time that should be followed even during holidays and weekends.
- Avoiding naps, especially during evenings.
- Bathing at least two hours before bedtime to prevent increasing alertness which can happen if bathing is done right before bed.
- Avoiding the intake of alcohol, caffeine and stimulants before bedtime.
- Limiting liquid intake at night to prevent the need to wake up and urinate.
- Using the bed and bedroom exclusively for sleeping.
Stress Management and Relaxation
Aside from proper sleep hygiene, it is also important to eliminate any psychological pressure that can prevent a good night’s sleep. Stress management and relaxation techniques can be used to achieve this. Here are some things to try:
- Learn diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and practice visual imagery to help the mind and body relax.
- Deal with things and resolve problems that bring stress.
- Avoid being pressed for time by allotting enough time for everything that needs to be done.
- Exercise or engage in non competitive activities for fun.
- Learn to manage anger properly.
Self help strategies are also a good way to help get to sleep without having to take a pill. Changing the environment in the sleeping area by providing proper ventilation, moving the bed or even just having clean sheets can help.
Eliminating noise and adjusting lighting can also make a difference when trying to sleep. Using these various techniques can help promote getting to sleep without having to rely on medication.
Here’s a nice video on “What is Insomnia and How to Cure it with Cognitive Behavior Therapy”: