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Fewer Americans can sleep naturally, raising health concerns

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MADISON (WKOW) -- More than a third of American adults are regularly not getting enough sleep, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Many of those having difficulty turn to sleep aids just to get a good night’s rest, but what they use and how often is raising concerns in the medical community. 

A new survey conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of Sleep Cycle shows 42% cannot go to bed without taking some sort of sleep aid. 

Dr. Rachna Tiwari with UW Health's Wisconsin Sleep Clinic said a lot of people are having trouble sleeping naturally.

"Do I have a lot of patients who use them or have tried them in the past? Yes. Have they been always been successful in using them? That's always a question," said Tiwari.

Propeller surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. adults online and found nearly 50% of people sometimes have to take a sleep aid. They found melatonin, sleeping pills, marijuana and alcohol are the most commonly used. 

Melatonin's growing popularity is raising some concerns, and Dr. Tiwari said that's mainly because of a lack of research on its long term effects as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not subject to regulations on its purity.

“We don’t know because it's not regulated, so you don't know the long term effects, if it says five milligrams of melatonin, you may not always know you're getting 5 milligrams and there could be something else added to them,” she said.

Melatonin products are now popular among parents who give it to their children.

At this time, some experts in pediatric sleep do not feel it’s a good idea to give babies melatonin.

Twairi said there are safer and proven methods to help your baby sleep such as self-soothing and proper sleep associations.

As for adults, she recommends changing your nightly routine; reduce screen time, use a sound machine, meditate or read a book. 

"Give yourself some time to relax,” she said.

If none of that works Twairi said it might be a good time to see your primary care doctor. 

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults aged 18–60 years sleep at least 7 hours each night.

Sleeping less than that is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and mental distress.

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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