Many Americans have stopped using sleep medications

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Scientists from the University of Florida found the use of medication to treat sleep disturbances has fallen dramatically in the United States in recent years after several decades of climbing steeply.

They analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted every two years.

Participants were asked to bring drugs they had used in the previous month or a pharmacy printout to their visits with researchers, who also inquired about the reason medication was being used.

The researchers focused on medications specifically used for insomnia and other transient sleep difficulties.

They found a 31% decline in the use of common sleep medications between 2013 and 2018, a trend thought to be linked to a greater awareness of the potential pitfalls posed by these prescriptions.

The drop-off is particularly noteworthy for Americans over age 80, who are most susceptible to falls leading to injury when using sleep medications. The study showed an 86% decrease in this group.

The study’s observed trend stands in marked contrast to the rapid rise of sleep medication use and prescribing in previous decades.

An earlier study found that prescriptions for benzodiazepines, or BZDs, a class of drugs to treat anxiety and insomnia that includes diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), and non-BZDs, a similar class of medications including zolpidem (Ambien), climbed 69% and 140%, respectively, between 1993 and 2010.

The team believes there are multiple reasons for the rise, including direct-to-consumer marketing, particularly with the emergence of Ambien in the early 1990s.

They also suggest a greater awareness of the importance of sleep to general health played a critical role.

If you care about sleep, please read studies about the science on 3 traditional bedtime remedies, and this sleep supplement may help prevent memory loss and cognitive decline.

For more information about sleep, please see recent studies about how to sleep to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and results showing scientists find silent sleep danger for smokers.

The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine and conducted by Christopher Kaufmann et al.

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