Bad economy sending more people to sleeping pills
One in four Americans say they're losing sleep over recession
By Andrew Adam Newman
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
Friday, April 24, 2009
More than one in four Americans say they are literally losing sleep over the economic downturn — tossing and turning over personal finances, the economy, job security or health care costs.
Those were the results of a poll released last month by the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit group financed by federal and private sources that include health care companies such as Merck, Wyeth and Johnson & Johnson, and mattress makers like Sealy.
It is little surprise, then, that some over-the-counter sleeping pills have been doing a brisk business in recent months.
In the four-week period that ended March 22, sales of Advil PM tablets, which combine a sleeping aid with a pain reliever, were up 16 percent compared with the same period a year ago, according to Information Resources Inc., whose totals do not include sales at Wal-Mart. The brand's year-over-year increases for the previous four weeks were even sharper, rising 33 percent, and were up 26 percent the month before that.
Sales of Tylenol PM, the leading pain-relieving sleeping pill, were up 6 percent year-over-year for the month that ended March 22.
There is plenty of sheep-counting even in the best of financial times. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 30 percent of Americans have trouble sleeping and 10 percent have some form of insomnia.
But economic factors weigh heavily. A survey by the market research firm Experian Simmons in 2008 found that those with household incomes under $25,000 were 48 percent more likely than the general population to have sleep disorders, and those with no employed adults in the household were 45 percent more prone.
According to a recent report by Packaged Facts, the age group most likely to suffer from insomnia is people 55 to 64 years old, who may have arthritis or other ailments and are 26 percent more likely than the average consumer to buy pain-relieving sleep aids.
"Not only does this age group have to deal with the pains of getting old, but they are also most affected by the financial crisis, a huge headache in and of itself," the report said.
Packaged Facts estimates the over-the-counter sleep aids market for 2008 at $604 million, and painkilling sleeping pills account for 61 percent of that. Leading the nighttime analgesics market is Tylenol PM, with a 50 percent share, followed by Advil PM (23 percent), store brands and other private labels (19 percent) and Excedrin PM (7 percent).
For those lying awake worrying about money, meanwhile, one way out of their financial predicament might be to develop solutions for people lying awake worrying about money.
Packaged Facts projects that sleeping aids — not just medication but a host of products including herbal supplements, travel aids like neck pillows, sound machines and sleep masks — will continue to grow as much as 10 percent annually through 2013.