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The Power of Two

Knock Out Drops

Published December 16, 2013 12:07 PM by Eleanor Wolfram

I was recently reviewing research studies conducted by The Centers for Disease Control and Surveillance (CDC), when I ran across an interesting pharmaceutical study which revealed over nine million Americans are using varies types of prescriptions for sleep aids. According to the CDC four percent of the entire population uses sleep aids to try and obtain rest. It is thought provoking when one imagines what the number climbs to when Canadians and citizens of other countries are added to that figure. 

Sleep medications include but are not limited to barbiturates, benzodiazepines, eszopiclone, temazepam, sedative antihistamines, zaleplon, and zolpidem. Although the CDC study does not address non-prescription (over-the counter, OTC) sleep aids, some users take over-the-counter medications that contain an antihistamine. Antihistamines are generally taken for allergies, common colds, hay fever symptoms.

With this variety of sleep medications and the high amount of users beg to question deeper what is going on with the physical and mental health of the public?  The report does provide some insight of the going-on with a look into the demographics of the users.

Age: It seems that the use of prescription sleep medications increases with age, 50 to 80 year olds the exhibiting higher rates that 49 years old and younger; Gender: Females use more than males population; Race and Ethnicity: Caucasian adults use sleep aids more frequently than Black and Latino adults; and Education Levels: Even the level of education is revealing. It seems from the study that those with higher education beyond high school use prescription sleep aids more than those only a high school education or those who did not complete high school.

The public health concerns center round the side effects from inappropriate and prolonged use of use of prescription and OTC sleep aids. Some of the side effects could include: drowsiness the next day, confusion, forgetfulness, severe withdrawal symptoms (i.e. nausea, sweating and shaking), and the masking an underlying problem, such as a medical or a mental disorder.

 The CDC concludes that while prescription sleep medication, is an important part of a sleep solution, it must not be the only solution. Researchers encourage the medical professional to delve further into mental and physical health issues affecting the public's health.

posted by Eleanor Wolfram

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