This week March 3-8 the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is holding National Sleep Awareness Week (NSAW, but SNAW would have sounded so much better.)
Had you hear about this week?
Each year it seems to be getting bigger so eventually you might.
Let me quote from the NSF’s “Sleep in America Poll 2008 – Summary of Findings”
“Long work days that often extend late into the night are causing Americans to doze on the job, at the wheel, and on their spouses, according to NSF’s 2008 Sleep in America poll. Among the poll respondents, 29% fell asleep or became very sleepy at work in the past month, 36% have fallen asleep or nodded off while driving in the past year, and 20% have lost interest in sex because they are too sleepy.”
Okay let me get straight to the point.
The Gold Sponsors of this event are:
- Boehringer Ingelheim – makers of pramipexole known by the names Mirapexin®, Sifrol®, Pexola®, Mirapex®, which is a treatment for a sleeping disorder called Restless Legs Syndrome
- Sanofi Aventis: makers of zolpidem known by the names Ambien®, Ambien CR®, Stilnox®, Myslee®, which is one of the world’s most popular sleeping medications.
The promotion of sleep awareness means the promotion of the awareness of sleep disorders, and of course, their treatments. It is hardly surprising that these companies are footing a big chunk of the bill.
It is hard for me to assess such an arrangement and it’s effects.
At least the evidence is that sleeping medication is more effective than anti-depressants at doing the job they are named for.
Except you need to consider whether they are effective long-term.
Certainly sleeping medication is not authorized for long-term use, even though that is how many, many people end up using them.
So how much is “awareness” based on marketing and “disease-mongering”, and how much on community benefit.
The NSF has a similar paradox to the one I find myself in when I talk about the system I have for helping people use sleeping pills safely and for as little time as possible.
By making sleeping pills safer to take, am I encouraging more people to take sleeping pills rather than fear them?
Am I contributing to the over-medicalization of something that is simply a part of being human?
Overall I hope I am contributing to your ability to make your own choice. After all that’s what self-help is all about.
-Dr Martin Russell
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