Good sleep hard to get

August 5, 2008 4:31:44 PM PDT
Experts worry Americans are turning to pills too much to solve chronic sleep problems

A new Consumer Reports survey finds 44 percent of Americans are "problem sleepers" - and many are turning to pills for relief.

In a new survey, more than 4 in 10 Americans said they struggle with insomnia at least 8 nights per month.

Researchers from Consumer Reports polled nearly 1500 people about their sleep habits and found many had difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up too early.

A quarter of the respondents said it took them 30 minutes or longer to fall asleep, and a similar percentage reported awakening for long periods during the night.

The survey also found that too often Americans use pills to treat their sleep problems.

Nearly twenty percent of participants admitted they took drugs to help them sleep, and the majority of these were PRESCRIPTION medications such as Ambien or Lunesta.

The pills do help, research shows, but they come at a cost - 63% of those taking the drugs experienced side effects and 1 in 4 became DEPENDENT on the medications for sleep.

Experts recommend people try other methods, such as using white noise machines or setting a regular bedtime, before resorting to drug treatments for insomnia.