There is an interesting article in today's, February 27. 2006, USA Today, about the lack of sleep which many Americans complain about.
Never before have work and play stolen more hours from the sandman. Between a global economy that demands increased productivity and a technology-fueled entertainment machine that provides non-stop diversions, it's a wonder people get any rest at all.
An NBC Today show/Zogby International poll indicates nearly half of Americans say they don't get enough sleep and roughly one-quarter get fewer than six hours a night. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics show a 20-year trend of Americans reporting less sleep.
This article shows up in the midst of my study on the increase in the number of hours Americans work and their concomitant decrease in time for parenting, community involvement and the impact on democracy. In my opinion, this is a huge mental health issue and in true American fashion, looking for the quick fix rather than life style change, and fueled by marketing of the pharmaceutical companies, Americans are turning to drugs to fix their problems rather than look at the underlying social policy issues.
Public Citizen's Sidney Wolfe is more forceful.
"There's a whole scam going on here," the watchdog group's health research director says. "The drug companies launched these incredibly successful marketing campaigns that convince normal people they have serious sleep issues. That's not to say there aren't some people with problems, but I don't think the numbers are as high as what groups like the National Sleep Foundation report."
That foundation, which receives funding from companies such as Ambien maker Sanofi-Aventis, conducts an annual poll on sleep habits. Last year, it reported that "about one-half of America's adults say they frequently experience at least one symptom of insomnia."
The foundation's CEO, Richard Gelula, says his group does not promote pill use: "We always urge people to evaluate their sleep habits and see what they can change in their lives first."
He adds that the group's polls indicate 11% of adults use alcohol as a sleeping aid and 9% opt for over-the-counter drugs. "What this says to me is that there is a lot of desire to treat the problem, but many folks aren't going to their doctors."
Are Americans working themselves to death? Are Americans working themselves into drug induced problems? Where is our materialistic, "personal responsibility" culture taking us?
I will think about the questions above, and sleep on them.