Use of sleeping pills highest among older Americans: CDC

Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:21am EDT
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By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Older U.S. adults, particularly women, are more likely to use prescription sleep medications to try to get the minimum seven hours of sleep experts generally recommend, U.S. data released on Thursday showed.

Use of such pills, which include Sanofi SA's Ambien and other similar drugs, was significantly higher for those in their 50s as well as age 80 and older, according to the findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall about 8.6 million people, or 4 percent of U.S. adults reported recently using sleep medication, CDC's National Center for Health Statistics said in a report.

But data showed higher use among middle-aged adults ages 50 to 59 and the elderly.

Six percent of those ages 50 to 59 said they had taken a prescription sleep pill in the last 30 days, and 7 percent of those age 80 and older reported such use. In between, the numbers dip slightly below 6 percent for those in their 60s and 70s.

In comparison, just 2 percent of those aged 20-39 said they had recently taken a sleep aid.

CDC researcher Yinong Chong said people in their 50s could have trouble sleeping because of work and family stress.

"It gives the picture of a sandwiched group who has family, not only children but also probably elderly parents but still you're likely to be in the workforce, so you get squeezed at both ends in terms of family responsibility and job responsibility," she said.   Continued...