Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
New Brunswick • Somerset

General Information

A study from Thomson Reuters found the use of prescription sleep aids among adults between the age of 18 and 24 tripled between 1998 and 2006. Researchers also found that during the time of the study, the average length of time sleep aids were used by adults under 45 jumped by more than 40 percent - up to 93 days in 2006 from 64 days in 1998. These are alarming facts, as we're willing to go out on a limb and guess that many of those users may be suffering from a sleep disorder, but are hiding their symptoms with these sleep aids.

The best thing to do when you suspect you're suffering from a sleep disorder is to see a sleep specialist who may recommend a sleep study. This is the most efficient way to determine the real cause of the problem, and to go about solving it. While sleep aids may assist one in masking symptoms, that's about all they do. They won't help solve the problem. Undergoing a sleep study allows sleep technicians to analyze your sleeping patterns, and to get to the real root of your problem(s). Don't get us wrong, there are times when sleep aids will do the trick. But if you're suffering from a sleep disorder, there may be other courses of treatment that won't require you to be on medication.

We've mentioned this before, but it always bears repeating - especially given the results of this study. Symptoms of sleep disorders, which sleep aids may help, but shouldn't be the solution for, include:

  • Snoring
  • Insomnia
  • Brief periods of not breathing and/or choking or gasping during sleep- Waking during sleep and restless sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness and falling asleep at inappropriate times
  • Personality changes/disorders
  • Depression
  • Loss of concentration
  • Morning headaches

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, the first step should be to see a sleep specialist who may recommend you undergo a sleep study. This will help your doctors determine if your problems are due to sleep-related issues or other health issues, and there are times when the course of treatment may not require medication. The bottom line is, sleep disorders need to be taken seriously - this is one time where taking the easy way out may be harmful for your health!

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