Sleeping pills ‘don’t work for four out of 10 Britons with insomnia’

By Jenny Hope

PUBLISHED: 23:40, 9 September 2012 | UPDATED: 08:17, 10 September 2012

Four in ten adults who take sleeping pills find they fail to help their insomnia, a survey has found.

Some 42 per cent who are currently on medication have been sleeping badly for over 11 years or more, it revealed.

A further 22 per cent had insomnia lasting two to five years, while one in six had suffered between six and ten years.

Taking a pill: Long-term poor sleepers were found twice as likely to have relationship problems

Taking a pill: Long-term poor sleepers were found twice as likely to have relationship problems


Experts said the study suggested that sleeping pills were not combating long-term sleep problems and that cognitive behavioural therapy has been proven to be more effective.

Around 10million NHS prescriptions for sleeping pills are issued each year. But NHS guidelines say they should be for short-term use only – usually for two weeks and up to a maximum of four weeks at a time.





It is estimated that a third of Britons suffer from insomnia.

Findings from The Great British Sleep Survey of more than 20,000 UK adults found we are a nation of poor sleepers.

The average score of sleep quality was only five out of ten.

Long-term poor sleepers were twice as likely to have relationship problems, suffer from daytime fatigue and lack of concentration.


The survey also showed almost one in ten with insomnia were on sleeping pills prescribed by their doctor, with one in five using over the counter remedies.

American research this year found sleeping pills may significantly increase the risk of premature death.

The latest survey was sponsored by Sleepio, an online sleep improvement programme which uses cognitive behavioural techniques.

Research shows the £49.99 programme can help three-quarters of even long-term poor sleepers retrain their mind and body to achieve healthy sleep in six weeks without the need for sleeping pills.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, has campaigned for the NHS to highlight the importance of sleep.

He said: ‘Alternatives to sleeping pills such as Sleepio are urgently needed in primary care settings to provide more adequate treatment to the public.’

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