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Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2009 Fall;16(3):e443-52. Epub 2009 Nov 16.

Sleep medication use in Canadian seniors.

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Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.



Difficulty sleeping is a common complaint by older people which leads to medication use to help attain sleep.


This study provides a population-based description of medication, specifically taken to help with sleep, by Canadians over the age of 60. The proportion of this sleep medication that is prescribed, and the determinants of prescribed versus over the-counter (OTC) sleep medication use will also be presented.


The Canadian Community Health Survey, 2002, provided the study population of 9,393 respondents over the age of 60.


Almost 16% of Canadians over 60 reported taking sleep medication over the past year, of which 85% was prescribed by physicians. Sleep medication is higher for women, increases with age, poor health, chronic illness and poor quality sleep,and was especially high for people with a recent major depressive episode. Prescribed sleep medication increased with age, low income, low education, poor health, chronic illness and residence in the province of Quebec. Adjusting for health status or insurance covering medication costs made little difference.


This study provides important new information on the use of sleep medication by older Canadians. Overall sleep medication use and proportion of sleep medication prescribed are separate parameters with potentially different distributions, e.g., Quebec showed the same amount of sleep medication use as elsewhere, but a much higher proportion of it was prescribed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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