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Alarming Number of Sleeping Pills Prescribed Since Quakes


Media Release

Alarming Number of Sleeping Pills Prescribed Since Quakes

A leading sleep expert has gone to Christchurch to offering her time and advice for free this week after reviewing the number of sleeping pills prescribed in Canterbury since the earthquakes.

Pharmac data shows over 100,000 prescriptions for sleeping pills were written for residents in the Canterbury DHB area in 2011.  Almost 1,000 of those were for 10-19 year olds and 30 for children under the age of nine.

2012 data shows prescriptions dropped back from the 2011 record high of 100,470 to 85,210 that equates to one script for every six people.

SleepDrops NZ Managing Director, Kirsten Taylor believes 85,000 is still too high, `sleeping pills are not a long term solution, they are addictive, impair cognitive function and significantly increase the risk of developing cancer and death`.

`Doctors reluctantly prescribe these serious medications which means the actual number of people being affected by anxiety and stress that culminates in sleeplessness is much higher but Allopathic health care professionals are at a loss of what else to do.

`The answer is to identify what is preventing sleep.  It`s highly likely that Cantabrians are being kept awake by a number of factors and may not realise that there are simple lifestyle changes that they can make to obtain better sleep. 


Stress – When we are stressed we produce more Cortisol – a highly stimulating hormone that can prevent sleep and spike during the night stopping you from going back to sleep.

Technology – Using laptops, smart phones and electronic gaming devices in the evening has been shown to delay the onset of sleep by as much as 90 minutes.

Diet – Nutrition is now acknowledged as being the most influential contributor to diseases and modern health problems – surpassing even smoking.  Low-grade allergies, greasy, spicy, additive-laden fast foods and junk food can keep you awake.

Nutrient Deficiency – Lack of key minerals: magnesium, potassium and zinc – without these essential nutrients your body cannot function normally and sleeping patterns can be significantly disrupted.


`We now know a lot about sleep and the science says introducing a consistent sleeping  routine for children could quite possibly be the best preventative parenting you`ll ever do`.

`Good quality & quantity sleep each night is crucial to the health of your nervous system.  Lack of it can seriously affect physical health, cognitive function, productivity and performance.

Children: Sleep deprivation in children can lead to attention difficulties, behavioural problems, learning issues, obesity, allergies and ear infections.

Teens: Sleep deprivation in teens can lead to behavioural problems, obesity, poor decision-making, anxiety, depression, car crashes and increased risk of becoming drug/alcohol dependent.

Adults: Lack of sleep in adults is linked to obesity, Type II Diabetes, heart disease, cognitive decline, drug & alcohol dependence, anxiety, depression, cancer, low libido and death.


2011  Canterbury DHB                  100,470

           Waitemata DHB                     87,430 (next highest)

2012  Canterbury DHB                     85,210

           Waitemata DHB                    83,390 (next highest)

THE NUMBERS: CANTERBURY BY AGE:                      

                                                 2011                                    2012

0-9                                                30                                          20

10-19                                          900                                        640

20-29                                       5,250                                     4,300

30-39                                       9,020                                     7,030

40-49                                     14,680                                   12,540

50-59                                     18,680                                   16,380

60-69                                     17,180                                   15,210

70-79                                     15,740                                   13,680

80-89                                     15,120                                   12,260

90-99                                      3,720                                     3,070

100+                                           120                                         70

Unknown                                     60                                         20

TOTAL                               100,470                                 85,210                      


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