Percentage of U.S. adults who have used prescription sleep aids 2005-2010

This statistic indicates the percentage of U.S. adults aged 20 and over that have used prescription sleep aids in the last 30 days, between 2005 and 2010 based on physician-diagnosed sleep disorders or self-reported troubles sleeping. For adults that have self-reported troubles sleeping, 12.7 percent of these persons used prescription sleep aids between 2005 and 2010. Sleep aids are used to maintain or prompt sleep through the supression of activities within the central nervous system. The pharmaceutical industry has witnessed an increase in sleep aid prescriptions in the United States.

Prescription sleep aid use in U.S. adults

Approximately 50 to 70 million people in the U.S. are sleep deprived or have a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders are classified into many categories such as dyssomnias and circadian rhythm sleep disorders and can be detrimental to physical and mental functioning. Sleep disorders are commonly diagnosed through a polysomnography as well as in sleep laboratories. Prescription sleep aids may help provide much needed sleep to the sleep deprived and to maintain overall health. However, long-term use of prescription sleep aids have also been associated with other health problems such as cardiovascular disease. In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required Lunesta, a commonly used sleeping aid, to lower their recommended starting dosage due to its causing of next-morning psychomotor and memory impairment. The global sleeping pill industry is projected to reach 9.0 billion U.S. dollars by 2015.

Those with a sleep disorder diagnosed by a physician in the United States used a prescription sleeping aid five times more often than those that were not diagnosed, 16.3 percent in comparison to 3.1 percent, respectively, based on use between 2005 and 2010. A 2008 survey reflected that 4 percent of U.S. adults showed signs of sleep apnea almost every night. Sleep apnea is a disorder where pauses in breathing or shallow and infrequent breathing occur during sleep. Insomnia was treated in 5.6 million U.S. adults in 2012. Women and people over the age of 65 were also more likely to report insomnia.

Percentage of U.S. adults who have used prescription sleep aids in the last month between 2005 to 2010*

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Release date

August 2013


United States

Survey time period

2005 to 2010

Age group

20 years and older

Supplementary notes

* In the last 30 days by diagnosed sleep disorder or self-reported trouble going to sleep.
Sleep aids include all hypnotic drugs as well as four antidepressant or sedative medications that are often prescribed for both insomnia and depression.
Data is age adjusted based on 2000 U.S. standard population projections with the age groups 20-39, 40-59, and 60 and over.

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