When it comes to Americans and their sleeping pills, it’s become an epidemic. Emergency room visits due to overuse of sleeping meds doubled between 2005 and 2010 alone, and such statistical evils only become more verified with each passing year.
But why do people overdose on sleepers to begin with? According to a recent report that looked into America’s nighttime addiction, much of the reason has to do with frustration at the pills specifically.
“Even when taking the recommended dose of zolpidem, some patients find restful sleep difficult to achieve,” the report authors wrote. “When sleep does not come easily or is interrupted, patients may take more of their zolpidem medication than is prescribed.”
It appears to be a dire reaction to such a relatively common problem. Typically, sleeping pills add just about 11 minutes of sleep to your night, indicated a 2007 study from the National Institutes of Health. What’s more, it makes people fall asleep only 13 minutes sooner than normal. While they do help somewhat in getting to sleep and staying asleep, it’s not by much.
Still another big problem is that patients don’t always understand that the active ingredient in many of their sleeping drugs, zolpidem, shouldn’t be combined with many other medications, warns Dr. Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.
“Patients don’t always remember to tell their doctors that they’re on another medication, because they may be going to multiple doctors for different specialty care,” he goes on.
The researchers didn’t tip toe around the topic, explaining how misuse “may occur even though the medication guides for each zolpidem product.”
Next time you’ve run out of sheep to count and your mind is racing too fast to find some shut-eye, read the label on your sleeping pills before you pop one, concludes the report. You could even forego the pills altogether, and make yourself believe you had a good night’s rest the next day. After all, no one can honestly know how much sleep they obtained the night before, anyway!
Always remember to consult your physician or chiropractor before taking any health advice.
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