Sleepless nights are costing the NHS some £50 million a year,
according to recent figures, which recorded 15.3 million
prescriptions of sleeping pills.
Despite the drugs having a lot of negative press of late over their
detrimental health effects, people are still keen to use them as an
aid for sleep. These pills are becoming the first port of call for
some, with everyday sleep advice being shunned in favour of the
There were some 800,000 more sleeping pill prescriptions handed out
in 2010/11 compared with 2007/08, according to NHS figures obtained
by the Co-operative Pharmacy. The freedom of information request
found that these drugs are costing the NHS £49.2 million a year,
which is up from £42 million in the three previous years.
In terms of geography, the highest number of sleeping pills were
dispensed in the North West, where spending reached more than £8.5
million on almost 2.5 million sleeping medication items. Zoplicone
was the most popular brand to be used, distributed to more than 5.2
million patients nationally.
Although many people have a genuine need for sleeping pills, health
experts have warned that long term health problems associated with
the drug can be particularly dangerous. They can also lead to a
psychological dependency, and lose their effect over time.
Mandeep Mudhar, NHS business director at the Co-operative Pharmacy,
said: "Our research shows that millions of people suffer from a
lack of sleep each year and are seeking medical help for the
"While usage has risen steadily, the costs to the NHS have risen
disproportionately, with costs going up at a greater rate."
Research in America found that people prescribed sleeping pills
were more likely to die earlier than those who don't in some cases.
The research, from experts at the Jackson Hole Centre for
Preventive Medicine in Wyoming and the Scripps Clinic Viterbi
Family Sleep Centre in California, proves that using conventional
methods, such as fixed routines and comfy bedrooms, is a lot safer
than turning to drugs.
Posted by Elizabeth Mewes