Chronic use of sleep medications--how serious is it in Israel?

Yaron Dagan*, Marina Dushenat, Barbara Silverman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The prevalence of chronic insomnia in the adult population in Israel is 29.8%, which is comparable to other Western countries. The consequences of insomnia include fatigue, accidents, low level of well-being, and a high need for medical services. One of the well-known treatments for insomnia is sleeping pills. Physicians are educated that hypnotics are an appropriate treatment for transient insomnia but not for chronic use. It is believed that transient users are at high risk of becoming addicted to sleep medications although research has not proven this theory. NonetheLess, physicians often try to convince insomnia patients not to use these medications. In the U.S.A., only 3% of chronic insomniacs use sleep medications. There are no data on the use of sleep medications in Israel. The present study was performed using a large database comprised of 1.1 million adult patients of Maccabi Health Services. It is the first study examining sleep medication usage habits of the adult population in IsraeL. The main findings are: 2.8% of Maccabi patients use sleep medications, however only 4.5% of this group are chronic users; most chronic users started sleep medications at the age of 65 or older and they suffer more than the transient users from medical conditions such as ischemic heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus, have higher usage of antidepressant and anxiolytic medication, receive greater national financial support and are more likely to be new immigrants. The results of this study should evoke physicians to reassess their position against prescribing sleep medications to patients for whom it may help in relieving their insomnia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-294, 352, 351
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


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