Stressed Out Moms Are Hitting The Ambien Bottle Hard


Sometimes it seems like moms cannot catch a break. They're already on duty 24 hours a day, but now it turns out that even when everyone else in the house is fast asleep, they're not getting much rest. Insomnia, the New York times reports, is causing women across the country, but especially moms, to turn to sleeping pills in pretty big numbers.

Mother's little helper of the new millennium may in fact be the sleeping pill. ... Nearly 3 in 10 American women fess up to using some kind of sleep aid at least a few nights a week, according to "Women and Sleep," a 2007 study by the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit research group.

And that's not counting women who rely on more "organic" sleep aids like hitting the wine bottle or people who instead take anti-anxiety meds or anti-depressant to help with sleep. This plague of insomnia is, unfortunately, disproportionately affecting women. In the last year,

15,473,000 American women between [the ages of 40 to 59] got a prescription (overwhelmingly for Zolpidem, the generic form of Ambien) to help them sleep, nearly twice the number of men in that age group.

Why can't we women catch any Zs? Well, it's partially because, like everyone else, we have access to technology like iPads that addle us just as we should be winding down, but it's mostly that women tend to have a lot to stay up worrying about:

Dr. Meir Kryger, director of sleep medicine research and education at Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford, Conn., said women "are really paying the price in sleep for their current role in society." Given their often-dueling roles as both a breadwinner and primary caregiver, "they have way more problems with insomnia."

The insomnia often begins when a woman has children and doesn't go away for a long, long time, even after the kids sleep through the night. Most of the moms in this article said it was often small logistical worries—juggling kids' schedules, keeping track of things around the house, and getting everything done at work—that crept into their minds and kept them awake late at night. But Cheryl Downs McCoy, a 45-year old mom in Oakland, had a more positive—if still sort of terrifying—outlook on things:

I'm pretty sure I wake up at 3 because subconsciously, I know I'll have this time to myself. It's the only time in a 24-hour period when no one needs me or wants me or expects me to do something. Despite the inconvenience, it's a time that's blissfully mine.

Oh God. Just thinking about that prospect is enough to keep anyone—mother or not—awake for days. Pass the Ambien!

Sleep Medication: Mother's New Little Helper [New York Times]

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