Research Shows Sleeping Pills May Be Losing Popularity With Americans

Starting in the early 90s, sleep-aid medications such as Valium, Xanax, and Ambien grew increasingly popular amongst Americans, reports HealthDay. Over time, however, research shows that the initial interest surrounding these prescription sleep medications has seen a sharp decline in the U.S.

Researchers from a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine looked at sleep-related health trends using survey data from more than 29,000 patients. Throughout the duration of the study, participants provided proof of current prescriptions along with information regarding its purpose and length of use. Findings showed that use of prescription drugs for sleep-related issues dropped more than 30% in the five years between 2013 and 2018.

Offering potential explanations for their findings, lead researcher Christopher Kaufmann told HealthDay, "There are several possible reasons for this decline; for example, there's a greater awareness of the potential dangers in the use of these medications." But negative side effects may not be the only explanation for what's driving Americans to forgo prescription sleep aids.

Alternate treatments for insomnia are growing in popularity

"Also, there's been a recent upsurge in behavioral treatments for improving sleep that don't have the potential adverse outcomes that some medications might have," Kaufmann went on to explain via HealthDay. In recent years, even healthcare professionals appear to be leaning more towards alternative insomnia treatment methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Additionally, the U.S. has also seen an increase in natural supplement usage for sleep (via Nutritional Outlook).

A 2022 scientific analysis published in Nutritional Outlook highlighted this recent shift towards sleep-related supplements by examining current research on the topic. Citing data from a 2021 survey conducted by Life Extension, researchers point out that over 80% of respondents expressed interest in vitamins and supplements as a means to boost sleep quality. Researchers also cited recent data provided by ClearCut Analytics, which proved just how great this interest is amongst consumers. "As of September 2021, sales of stress relief and sleep support supplements grew by 31% and 55% year-over-year (YoY), respectively, on Amazon," ClearCut representatives told Nutritional Outlook.

For those utilizing sleep supplements, Dr. Stella Hahn, associate medical director of the Northwell Sleep Disorder Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. advises taking them hours prior to hitting the hay (per HealthDay). Supplements taken too late in the evening may actually end up diminishing sleep quality.