We have a problem here in the USA, and I’m guessing around the world as well. According to a study conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, at least 8.6 million Americans take prescription sleeping pills. That’s about 4% of adults aged 20 and older, and personally I’d wager that the percentage is higher than that. They found that the majority of users are white, female, educated, or 50 and older.
This research study found about 25% of those folks who take prescription drugs for sleep said they had trouble getting to sleep or waking up and not being able to get back to sleep. About 59 million sleeping pills were prescribed in 2012, up from 56 million in 2008. That’s a staggering amount of people (and a staggering amount of money going to the pharmacological companies who produce them).
The Survey also found that more than one third of adults get less that seven to nine hours of sleep, which is the recommended amount according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sleep Problems Will Compromise Your Health & Longevity
A sleep scientist, William Dement, says that sleep is “the most important predictor of how long you will live – perhaps more important than smoking, exercise, or high blood pressure. Studies have shown that not enough sleep increases levels of stress hormones and lowers levels of grown hormones, less bodily immune resistance.
Educated women were the biggest users of prescription sleep aids, 5% indicating they used them, compared to 3.1% of the men. Authors of this research speculate it’s because women are often juggling two full time jobs – work and family.
Use of sleeping pills apparently also increases with age, as 7% of people over 80 reported using them.
Prescription sleeping pills are supposed to be for short time use but often people ignore the warnings. And that may have fatal consequences. Researchers found people who over used prescription sleeping aids were nearly five times as likely to die over a 2½ year period than non users. Other side effects include sleep-eating, sleep-driving, and especially next day grogginess.
Now I’m not saying that occasional use is not warranted, because we all know how crummy it is to operate on less sleep. We can get to the point of feeling slightly delirious and grumpy mood wise, and not as sharp in our decision making, and physical coordination (we’re more accident prone).
There ARE Ways to Fall Asleep Naturally & Peacefully
Here’s the good news. According to Attitude Reconstruction, not being able to sleep is related to having too many unexpressed emotions, especially fear. We experience fear as feeling overwhelmed, anxious, confused, stressed, etc.
And if we realize that fear is a pure physical sensation and deal with it on a physical level, we can move the energy out of our bodies, allowing ourselves and our mind and spirit to calm down.
What does a dog do when it’s scared? It shivers, quivers, trembles. What does our body naturally do when our survival feels threatened, whether it’s a traumatic event, such as an accident or unexpected bad news? Our hands become shaky and we shudder uncontrollably, our stomach clenches up, or we become paralyzed.
We need to allow our bodies to do what is natural. I know most people resist this idea. We like to “keep it together” or even though it makes sense, it seems too silly or simple. But I have seen tons of clients in my thirty plus years as a psychotherapist, and have found this cure really works! So give it a try.
As ridiculous as it sounds, peel yourself out of bed (or do it before getting into bed), and shiver, quiver, tremble and shudder, for not even two minutes. Up your spine, out your arms and hands, down your legs, and around your neck. Do it hard, fast, and with abandon, while just making sounds or thinking “It’s okay. I just feel scared. Everything will be all right.” Much to your amazement, you’ll find your body and mind will finally relax, and you’ll drift off to sleep.
Give it a whole-hearted try and I bet you’ll get a good night sleep.