It’s not news that most Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. To deal with the shortage, many turn to sleeping pills.
Health officials recently reported that nearly 20 percent of American adults use a drug to help them sleep either occasionally or regularly. Sleep medications, sold both over the counter and by prescription, are common treatments for sleep problems.
Researchers used data from the 2020 National Health Interview Study. They found that among adults 18 and over, 8.4 percent used medication to help them fall asleep on most or every night, while another 10 percent said they used it on some nights.
The research also revealed that women are more likely to use it than men (10 percent and 6 percent, respectively) and that use, at least among men, decreased as income increased.
Many experts believe that sleep medication, both prescribed and over the counter, is overused and poorly used.
Many people start believing that sleep medication is the sole reason they can get shuteye every night. That creates a dependence, which can lead to tolerance, and the belief that sleep can’t be had without them.
Sleep medication can have side effects, like drowsiness and fatigue, similar to what one would feel if one didn’t get a good night’s sleep.
Although getting good sleep is natural and required, it takes effort for some. Sleep is closely tried to stress, so finding ways to manage stress may offer better sleep. Learning mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, and getting more exercise may help.
You can also try writing down your thoughts and ideas during the day so that you aren’t holding onto them and churning through them at night when you’re trying to fall asleep.
Taking some time to relax before bed and avoiding social media and screens may also help. Shut these things down an hour or so before you want to fall asleep.
Lastly, avoid eating large meals, alcohol, and caffeine before bed. Try not to eat or have alcohol within two or three hours of bed, and eliminate caffeine four to six hours before sleep.
Taking these steps may help get you away from sleeping pills. If not, seek the attention of a sleep specialist.