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CDC Study: Use of Prescription Sleep Aids Highest Among Older Americans

Women more likely than men to use these agents (August 29)

According to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older U.S. adults, particularly women, are more likely to use prescription sleep medications to try to get the minimum 7 hours of sleep experts generally recommend.

The report finds that, from 2005 to 2010, about 4% of U.S. adults 20 years of age and older reported that they took prescription sleep aids in the past 30 days. The prevalence of use was lowest among the youngest age group (20 to 39 years) at about 2%; increased to 6% among those aged 50 to 59 years; and reached 7% among those aged 80 years and over.

Moreover, reported prescription sleep aid use in the past 30 days was higher among women (5.0%) than among men (3.1%).

Other key findings include:

  • Non-Hispanic white adults were more likely to use sleep aids (4.7%) than non-Hispanic black (2.5%) and Mexican-American (2.0%) adults.
  • The use of prescription sleep aids varied by sleep duration and was highest among adults who sleep less than 5 hours (6.0%) or sleep 9 or more hours (5.3%).
  • One in six adults with a diagnosed sleep disorder and one in eight adults with trouble sleeping reported using sleep aids.

It is estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans experience sleep disorders or deprivation.

Prescription sleep aids are one of the treatment options for trouble falling asleep or maintaining sleep. However, long-term use of sleep aids has been linked to adverse health outcomes.

Sources: NCHS; August 29, 2013; and Reuters; August 29, 2013.

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