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More than One-Third of Older Adults Use Sleep Aids

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry; ePub 2018 Sep 14; Maust, et al

More than a third of older adults use medications or aids to help with sleep, most commonly over-the-counter (OTC) aids, a recent study found. Therefore, clinicians should routinely ask older patients about sleep-related difficulties and the use of non-prescription sleep aids. Researchers conducted a cross-sectional, nationally-representative survey (the National Poll on Healthy Aging). Participants included community-dwelling older adults aged 65-80 (n=1,065). The evaluated self-reported difficulty initiating sleep or early awakening (“sleep symptoms”); use of prescription medication or non-prescription aids to promote sleep (“sleep product”), including prescription sleep medication, OTC sleep aids, prescription pain medication, or herbal/natural sleep aid. They found:

  • Sleep symptoms were endorsed by 67.7% of respondents.
  • Use of a product to help with sleep was reported by 35.4%: 21.9% used OTC sleep aids, followed by herbal/natural aids (12.5%), prescription sleep medication (8.3%), and prescription pain medication (5.0%).
  • Self-reported fair/poor mental health (relative to excellent/very good mental health) was associated with increased odds of sleep product use.


Maust DT, Solway E, Clark SJ, Kirch M, Singer DC, Malani P. Prescription and non-prescription sleep product use among U.S. older adults. [Published online ahead of print September 14, 2018]. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2018.09.004.