A report in The New York Times chronicles new research that reveals the extent to which overstressed mothers use medications to help them wind down and sleep at the end of the day. Excerpts from the article:
Mother's little helper of the new millennium may in fact be the sleeping pill — a prescription not likely to inspire a jaunty pop song anytime soon. Nearly 3 in 10 American women fess up to using some kind of sleep aid at least a few nights a week, according to "Women and Sleep," a 2007 study by the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit research group....
Why all the angst over bedtime, the one part of the day that, barring nightmares, ought to bring deeply needed peace? Many believe that sleep deprivation among women has worsened. In the "Women and Sleep" study, 80 percent of women reported being just too stressed or worried to turn out the proverbial lights.
[Sleep expert] Dr. [Nancy] Collop points to the persistent creep of technology into the after-hours, a time once reserved for physical and psychological winding down.
"There's always the worry another e-mail has come in," she said. "Just the light from the electronic book or the iPad screen is stimulating...."
While women with infants are loath to take something that might conk them into an oblivion the sleep monitor cannot penetrate, mothers with older children seem to have fewer misgivings.
According to IMS Health, a health care consulting firm in Danbury, Conn., the use of prescription sleep aids among women peaks from 40 to 59. Last year, the firm said, 15,473,000 American women between those ages got a prescription (overwhelmingly for Zolpidem, the generic form of Ambien) to help them sleep, nearly twice the number of men in that age group.
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