The New York Times reports that the use of sleeping pills by young adults has risen dramatically. The biggest increase from 1998 to 2006 came among adults between the ages of 18 and 24.
The report is based on an analysis by Thomson Reuters. It examined drug claims by adults under the age of 45. Overall sleeping pill use was highest among adults between the ages of 35 and 44.
The most popular sleeping pills were Ambien CR and Lunesta. The drugs were prescribed for an average of 93 days.
AASM president Dr. Mary Susan Esther told the Times that chronic insomnia often is linked to other problems. These include depression and anxiety. In these cases a sleeping pill won’t address the related problem.
Insomnia also can be caused by disruptions to the sleeping environment. This is called environmental sleep disorder. Dr. Esther pointed out that a noisy dorm is a common sleep disrupter for college students.
The report did not examine the use of other treatments for insomnia. One of the most effective treatments is cognitive behavioral therapy. Following the tips of good sleep hygiene also helps some people with insomnia.
Like any other drug, sleeping pills may cause some side effects. These side effects can include sleepwalking, sleep eating and other complex sleep behaviors. Some people also may experience memory problems.
The AASM offers these Guidelines for Taking Sleep Medications. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have any other questions about taking sleeping pills.