Are sleep pills doing more harm than good?

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A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that nearly one in five adults in America uses sleep medication.

This trend is raising eyebrows among experts who worry that these drugs might be overused or misused. Here’s what you should know:

The Sleep Pill Habit: Who’s Using Them?

According to the CDC’s study, about 8.4% of adults take sleep medication almost every night, and another 10% use them sometimes.

The report, based on a 2020 survey, showed that more women (10%) take these pills than men (6.6%). Also, white adults were more likely to take sleep meds than people from other racial backgrounds.

It’s not just about who’s using these sleep aids, but also when and how often. The older people get, the more likely they are to use these meds.

And it’s interesting to note that men seemed to use these less as they earn more money.

Why Are Experts Concerned?

Many of these sleep medications are meant for short-term use. They’re not a permanent fix for sleep problems.

But people are using them long-term, and this could lead to dependency. Meaning, you might feel you can’t sleep without them.

Lauren Broch, a sleep expert, says that relying on these drugs could make you feel groggy the next day. They can even slow down your thinking.

Another concern is that these pills can react badly with other medicines you might be taking.

So, there’s worry that we might be turning to the medicine cabinet too quickly to solve our sleep issues, without understanding the long-term risks involved.

Broch says the best way to improve your sleep is to change your habits, not to rely on a pill.

The Smarter Way to Better Sleep

You don’t need to toss and turn all night or feel tired all day. There are better ways to get good sleep. Experts recommend “sleep hygiene.”

It sounds fancy, but it’s simple: go to bed at the same time every day and keep your bedroom cool and dark. Don’t bring your phone or laptop into bed with you; they can make it harder for you to fall asleep.

Some folks also find it helpful to see a sleep expert. These experts can help figure out why you’re not sleeping well and offer more natural ways to fix the problem.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of these options. It’s a type of talk therapy that helps you understand the thoughts and behaviors that are stopping you from sleeping well.

More Background Info: The Bigger Picture

Sleep is a big deal. Bad sleep doesn’t just make you tired—it can make you sick. Research has found links between poor sleep and all sorts of health problems, from weight gain and heart disease to a weaker immune system.

A separate study also showed that sleep medication might increase the risk of dementia for some people.

And it’s not just adults who are affected. Poor sleep can hurt kids’ grades and make it hard for them to pay attention in school. For everyone, young and old, good sleep is crucial for good health.

Key takeaways

So, before you reach for that sleep pill, think twice. Remember that there are other, safer ways to get a good night’s sleep.

And if you’re really struggling, it might be time to consult an expert to get to the root of your sleep troubles. After all, a good night’s sleep is something we all need and deserve.

If you care about sleep, please read studies about herbs that could help you sleep well at night, and these drugs could lower the severity of sleep apnea by one-third.

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 study was published in NCHS Data Brief.

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