A woman tosses and turns in bed, unable to welcome the sweet serenity of sleep. She turns over, pounds the pillow and tries again. She lies on her back and tries to count nonexistent sheep in her mind, but after the 29th fluffy imaginary animal, she becomes annoyed and gives up. The next morning, she wakes up feeling as though sleep never came.
Nearly everyone has been there. However, does feeling restless a few times mean that a sleeping pill is necessary?
According to the Feb. 12 edition of Time magazine, 42 million sleeping pill prescriptions were filled in the United States during 2005, an increase of 60 percent since 2000. Another statistic provided by the magazine was that drug makers spent $298 million dollars in the first 11 months of 2005 trying to convince consumers that their products are safe and effective.
It can’t be a coincidence that with the increase of marketing, an increase in Americans’ consumption of the products has arisen.
It seems that many Americans have become hypochondriacs. They are acting like green psychology students who open their textbooks and immediately begin diagnosing themselves and others. Sleep aid commercials ask the viewer if he or she has restless nights and trouble sleeping. Of course they have – nearly everyone has had one of those nights, perhaps for days at a time.
The commercials then tell the viewers to ask their doctor for the medication without recommending that they simply ask the doctor for a diagnosis. Most of these viewers do not have a medical degree. How can these people, who are not properly trained, diagnose their own illnesses? What is the point of a general practitioner if the patients can figure it out for themselves? Sure, a doctor can refuse to fill the prescription, but patients who are convinced they need the pills will seek second or third opinions. Why not get rid of the middleman and go straight to the pharmacy?
The patient is not the only one at fault, however. In another Time magazine article, “Sleeping-Pill Puzzler,” Christine Gorman wrote two doctors agreed that “physicians may be giving their patients the heavily marketed drugs they ask for in order to focus what’s left of their increasingly abbreviated office visit on more serious complaints.”
Americans and their doctors are trying to find the easy way around getting to sleep. There are a hundred natural ways to get to sleep: warm milk, exercise, keeping a regular sleep schedule, laying off the caffeine or learning how to relax before going to bed. However, all of these have one crucial disadvantage: They take more effort and time then popping a sleeping pill. And why bother when you can solve a problem with a prescription?