More Americans Using Sleeping Pills

More Americans are using prescription drugs to fall asleep, according to a new study that suggests insomnia is on the rise.

The study of more than 32,000 men and women found that 3 percent of participants used a sleep aid - up from 2 percent in 1999. Zolpidem (known better by its brand name Ambien) and trazodone were the most commonly used medications, and 55 percent of sleep-aid users reported using more than one kind of sleep aid.

The study, which involved adults who were not institutionalized, was published in the February issue of the journal Sleep.

6 Health Hazards Linked to Lack of Sleep

People with insomnia have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night leading to excessive sleepiness during the day. Some insomniacs are kept awake by nightmares, pain or unusual sensations, according to the National Institutes of Health, while others have fragmented sleep that fails to refresh.

While prescription sleep aids can help, they can carry side effects like daytime drowsiness and sleepwalking.

Sleep Walking and 5 Other Crazy Things People Do in Their Sleep

To sleep better naturally, the NIH recommends the following tips:

  • Wake up at the same time each day
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool
  • Avoid working or eating in the sack
  • Avoid strenuous activity and heavy meals two hours before bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine