Sunday, November 16, 2008

The sleepless epidemic

From the Globe and Mail:
For years, Stacie Fox feared the night. From the moment she went to bed, sleeplessness taunted her. Just as she began to drift off, it would jerk her awake again. As a result, she waded through her days with aching joints, swollen glands and a leaden heart. “I felt like I was 80,” says the 32-year-old actor from Burlington, Ont. “I felt like the whole world was going to end. My brain was in a fog.”

Using makeup and her acting skills to hide her exhaustion, she tried everything she could think of escape her insomnia. A dairy-free diet. Acupuncture. Massage therapy. Tai chi. Good sleep hygiene (no caffeine or alcohol, no TV in the bedroom). She even went to the Matrix Repatterning Centre in Aurora, Ont., where naturopathic doctors claimed to help “correct the imbalance in soft tissue, organs and bones.”

Her family doctor tested her thyroid, liver and kidneys, her levels of blood sugar and cortisol, the “stress hormone.” The results all came back normal. Then her doctor prescribed sleeping pills.

Imovane, a tiny, bitter blue piece of magic, sent her into a sweet, sustained slumber. Comfort, at last. She slept like a baby.

Many are loath to admit it, but more and more people both in Canada and the United States are fed up with punching the pillow until dawn. Consumption of sleeping pills has increased dramatically in the past five years. Prescriptions for zopiclone, the generic name for Imovane, rose 49 per cent from 2003 to last year, according to industry tracker IMS Health Canada, while those for all sedatives went up 15 per cent. ...more

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