National Sleep Awareness Week 2008… Yes Really!

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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3 thoughts on “National Sleep Awareness Week 2008… Yes Really!”

  1. Poor quality sleep, tmj and fibromaylgia seem to be tightly connected for me. Restorative sleep despite chronic diffuse pain and jaw clenching seems be out of reach. At what point does self help reach its limit and prescription meds are the only way to be able to help yourself.

  2. Tried various pills unsuccessfully for a while but have just been prescribed Stilnoct which has worked for 2 nights and I feel the best ever today! Just watched the vids on managing sleeping pills as I was worried about addiction etc – brilliant advice so it’s time to try out Step 2 (a night without). Here goes, wish me luck, but I’ll try not to think to hard about it as soon as my head hits the pillow!!

  3. Tammy,

    Sleep prescription meds are authorized for short-term ie maximum of 4 weeks only.

    Fibromylagia is a symptom description with no clear cause. I hands-down recommend this guy for TMJ, and also for some aspects of fibromyalgia.

    His book Pain-Free is THE book I would take if stranded on a desert island. Fun, and curative.


    Think as much as you like. Never again will you go more than 2 nights in a row without relief. If you need to get the thoughts out of your head, put them onto a piece of paper at least. Thanks for the feedback!

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