Vermonters are the nation’s unhealthiest sleepers, and Ohioans are the healthiest.
After a night spent tossing and turning in bed instead of getting the recommended 7 hours of shut-eye, many people are familiar with the zombie-like state that follows the next day – and would do everything in their power to avoid this feeling of exhaustion. In fact, a report found that just between mid-February and mid-March of 2020, there was an overall 14.8 percent increase in prescription sleep medications in the U.S. Lack of sleep can be caused by things like an overactive mind due to busy everyday life; mental health issues, or general anxiety. While many insufficient sleepers seek the secret to a perfect night’s sleep in the form of a seemingly magic pill, relying on these medications over time could lead to a more long-term dependency.
CountingSheep.net analyzed County Health Rankings and Google search data across the country to determine where the unhealthiest sleepers in America reside – that is, uncovering how many people attempt to treat their insomnia with medication, rather than trying holistic solutions, such as relaxation and mindfulness techniques.
Overall, in the past year, the data revealed that 35 percent of Californians have not gotten sufficient sleep each night, which is more than 13.8 million adults. Based on Google search data, it was found that these insufficient sleepers have searched for sleep medication online 879,360 times over the past year.
This means that just 6 percent of Californians who suffer from insomnia treat the condition with sleep medication, ranking the state’s residents among the nation’s healthiest sleepers (in 49th place).
When this data was compared across states, Vermont ranked in first place for being home to the unhealthiest sleepers, where 39 percent of people with insufficent sleep treat their insomnia with medication. Comparatively, Ohioans ranked as the nation’s healthiest sleepers (6 percent).
Ranked: the five unhealthiest sleep states in America: 1. Vermont; 2. Wyoming; 3. Alaska; 4. North Dakota; and, 5. South Dakota.
Ranked: the five healthiest sleep states in America: 50. Ohio; 49. California; 48. Michigan; 47. New York; and, 46. Pennsylvania.
Dangers of sleeping medications
Of course, many people who struggle to fall asleep at night are tempted by the near-immediate knock-out effects of sleep medication. These effects don’t necessarily require additional efforts like a white noise machine; meditation; or deep breathing techniques before bed – some of which, may seem off-putting for those who are desperate for sleep. However, it’s important to note that sleeping medications also carry known side effects, which could pose a series of health risks.
Benzodiazepines and nonbenzodiazepines, for example, can impact daytime behavior, causing grogginess. This may increase the risk of accidents and falls for individuals who use these medications.
More seriously, some nonbenzodiazepines are also linked to dangerous sleep-related behaviors, such as sleep-driving and sleepwalking. In fact, the FDA has mandated label warnings on certain nonbenzodiazepine drugs, following several reports of rare, but severe injuries and deaths as a result of complex sleep behaviors after taking these medications.
As a sleepless nation, it’s evident that many of us struggle with finding techniques that help us fall asleep – and stay asleep – at night, said a spokesperson from CountingSheep.net. It’s tempting to pick up an over-the-counter medication or prescription while having difficulty sleeping at night, however, it’s extremely important to remember the side effects that can occur – some of which, can have severe impacts on a person’s everyday functions and behaviors, like driving, or even walking. While things like meditation, deep breathing and other relaxation techniques can have a less immediate impact, these behaviors can contribute to an overall healthier sleep routine for those who are struggling.