Sleeping pills used by nearly 9 million: CDC

More than one-third of Americans now fail to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Photo: Scott MacLeod Liddle via Flickr

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that nearly{ }nine million Americans over the age of 20 are turning to prescription medications to get some shut-eye.

Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night can be difficult. In fact, it’s something more than one-third of Americans now fail to get.

“Sometimes I have a hard time turning off the day and getting my brain to shut down,” says Donna Dennis of Dumfries.

The study finds that 4-percent of Americans reported using prescription sleeping pills in the past 30 days.

“I have to take medication to shut my mind down to get me to sleep for a period of time,” says Jessica Myers-White of Gaithersburg.

“Just the stress of life, you know? Everything I have to do today and thinking about tomorrow and finances,” says Carmen Carrasco of Laurel.

The research also finds higher usage among white men and women and among educated people. However, sleeping pills have been linked to adverse effects, like poor work performance and drowsiness while driving the day after taking them.

Dr. Gholam Motamedi with MedStar Georgetown University Hospital warns{ }sleeping pills{ }should be used with caution.

“The problem is if you mask insomnia using medication you might be masking the underlying condition,” Dr. Motamedi says.

But for those who are finally catching some shut-eye with help from the medications the positive effects may outweigh the negative.

The researchers say the higher use of sleeping pills among middle-aged adults might be due to the stress from work and the responsibility of caring for children as well as elderly parents.