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Survey: Over 40% of Americans are 'problem sleepers'
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According to a new survey released by the journal Consumer Reports on Tuesday, 44 percent of Americans are "problem sleepers."

In a nationwide survey of 1,466 adults, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center in April 2008, people were asked how well they slept the night, week, and month before participating in the survey.

They found many people turn to drugs to solve sleep problems; almost one in five Americans took prescription or over-the-counter medicines at least once a week to help them sleep.

Although sleep medications are usually recommended for no more than two weeks, 14 percent of those surveyed took some type of pill on at least eight of the past 30 nights; five percent turn to pills every night of the month.

Sixty-three percent of those who took sleep medications experienced side effects; 24 percent said they became dependent on the medication they used; and 21 percent said that repeated use reduced the drug's effectiveness.

Among the 15 percent of respondents who had taken a prescription drug during the preceding month, a disturbingly high 38 percent said they'd been on the medication for more than two years.

According to a new survey released by the journal Consumer Reports on Tuesday, 44 percent of Americans are "problem sleepers." [file photo: Xinhua] 

More than a quarter of respondents said it took them 30 minutes or longer to fall asleep the previous night, and one quarter awakened in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep for at least a half-hour. A third woke up much earlier than they'd hoped.

The survey found that of six characteristics that problem sleepers had in common, the most prevalent was high stress levels. Most of the time, respondents were anxious over family or money concerns, health issues or work woes.

The report cautions that far too many people are turning to medicine as a first resort to treat their insomnia. In fact, last year in U.S., 24 million prescriptions were written for the four best-selling sleep drugs alone.

"What people don't realize is these medications can pose a host of side effects including daytime drowsiness, even bizarre behavior like sleep-walking. There are alternative treatments, such as sound machines, that may be quite effective, yet pose no risks at all," said Tod Marks, senior editor at Consumer Reports.

(Xinhua News Agency August 6, 2008)


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