Did you know that about 30% of adults suffer from insomnia? Considering we ideally spend about a third of our life sleeping (or trying to), that’s an awful lot of time to spend battling this beast. Whether it’s difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, more people than ever are not getting the quality and quantity of sleep they need in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
When did we lose our knack for sleeping? Here’s what recent studies have revealed about the trends in insomnia in the past 20 years:
Prevalence of insomnia has increased slightly
In the UK, prevalence of insomnia increased from 35.0% in 1993 to 38.6% in 2007 (source). However, the factors correlated with insomnia remained consistent during the 15 year period (i.e. with insomnia being more prevalent amongst women, those of older age, and those suffering from depression). In other words: insomnia has been gradually on the rise, but amongst the same demographic over time.
A similar study in Finland mirrors this finding: from 1995-2005 they observed a slight increase in insomnia amongst the working age population (source).
The use of sleeping tablets to treat insomnia has increased dramatically
A study by Medco Health Solutions revealed that from 2000-2004, use of sleeping tablets doubled amongst adults and increased by 85% in children and young adults in the US (source).
Another study had even more dramatic findings, citing that from 1994-2007, prescriptions for Nonbenzodiazepine Sedative Hypnotics (e.g. Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata) saw a 30-fold increase (540,000 to 16.2 million) in the US (source). Given that there are around almost 9 million Americans using sleeping tablets (source), this indicates that people are being prescribed multiple different kinds of sleeping medications to handle their insomnia.
The Bottom Line
More and more people are using sleeping tablets to deal with insomnia, though the prevalence of insomnia itself has not increased anywhere near as fast in recent years. That begs the question: Are sleeping tablets effective?