June 24, 2022 – Hours pass by tossing and turning, with no hope of escaping into a comfortable, restful sleep. Or worse, you’re exhausted and have no chance to doze off before the dreaded morning alarm. If it isn’t you, it could be someone very close to you. Suggest the results of a new survey.
A report published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) of more than 2,000 Americans found that nearly 3 in 10 have insomnia, and more than half are able to self-medicate. In addition, 28% of people in the study reported that insomnia worsened their lives and daily routines. The survey also found: that nearly a third of Americans have reported new or worsening sleep problems since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While insomnia can lead to trouble falling or staying asleep, chronic insomnia can do more damage than poor sleep, often making anxiety, depression and pain worse, according to a study on insomnia published in the journal. Medical Clinics of North America.
Coping with insomnia and associated conditions could explain why 64% of Americans reported taking sleep aids or medications to relieve their insomnia. More than a quarter (27%) of people in the study regularly use melatonin, 23% use prescription drugs, and 20% use marijuana orcannabidiol (also known as CBD) for falling or staying asleep. Meanwhile, nearly 4 in 10 (37%) of those who use sleep aids said they used the products more during the pandemic.
Sleep aids like melatonin can work well with the right guidance, according to the Medical Clinics of North America study. But when researchers looked at the various drugs and supplements for insomnia, they found some cause for concern. Dietary sleep aids, including valerian, kava-kava, and skullcap, are not regulated and require more evidence to prove they work. Even melatonin should not be used for chronic insomnia, according to the AASM clinical guidelines, which is advice for treating chronic insomnia by experts in sleep medicine and sleep psychology.
According to the guidelines, these treatments could help the people in the study with insomnia and others with this condition:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)
- Relaxation therapy, including controlled breathing and meditation
- Using the bed only for sleep and sex; don’t read or watch TV in bed
- Consult a medical provider for help with a treatment plan