Sleeping Pill Use Amongst Young Adults Triples

I did a double take when I read this article in the New York Times. Among young adults aged 18 to 24, use of prescription sleeping pills tripled from 1998 to 2006. We know that chronic insomnia is associated with depression and anxiety, and possibly heart disease later. It also mentioned another study that revealed that 50% of all college-aged individuals suffered from a psychiatric disorder within the past year, of which 25% sought treatment.

College students have a lot of reasons to have insomnia, including the erratic sleep schedules, eating late and doing all-nighters. But one interesting comment made by a psychiatrist is that these are the same people that were raised on Ritalin. This is an interesting comment.

I’ve discussed before many studies in the past that a significant number of children with ADHD have obstructive sleep apnea. When treated properly for obstructive sleep apnea, many children do much better. I’ve seen children come off Ritalin after a routine tonsillectomy. We’re probably picking up and treating only a small fraction of all children with obstructive sleep apnea. Many of them will be diagnosed and treated for ADHD instead. So what happens when they grow up? 

Since they continue to have jaw narrowing and dental crowding, they’ll still have sleep-breathing issues. Yes, many will "grow out of it," but a significant number will go on to develop insomnia, depression, anxiety, and panic disorders, and high blood pressure and heart disease later in life.



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