The American war FOR drugs (and how you can still sleep at night)

By Katharine Swan On Tuesday, February 07, 2006 At 1:03 AM


The War On Drugs, my ass. Do you think more money is spent on America's efforts to beat down illegal drugs? Or to increase the "good" drugs available to Americans?

I just read an article in the New York Times about the dramatic increase in sleeping pill prescriptions. The article cites that the number of prescriptions for sleeping pills has gone up sixty percent in the past five years. Sixty percent. Good god, what is this world coming to!

And they wonder why.

Well, think about it. Drug companies now dominate pretty much every commercial break on TV. So now, instead of going to the doctor and saying, "I can't sleep," and talking to the doctor about how to schedule their days to increase their sleepiness at night, people are going to the doctor and saying, "I want a prescription for such-and-such brand of sleeping pills." No room for argument or alternative treatment there.

Which, of course, is exactly what the drug companies want. While the press is running an article asking "How did this happen?" the drug companies are saying in their meetings, "Great, we met our sales goals. Now how can we increase sales even more next year?" They don't care if the entire American population is ripping towel racks out of walls during sleepwalking incidents or becoming seriously addicted to their drugs. They care about sales.

This is what happens when the health industry is a business in a free market economy, folks.

On the other side of the equation, you have all the advertising that is aimed at your doctors. You know those pens the doctors' offices always have, with drug names emblazoned across them? The drug companies give those pens to the offices for free. It's like when your big brother said, "Don't think of a pink elephant," and all you could think about was suddenly that pink elephant. The drug companies want to make sure that their drug is at the forefront of your doctor's mind, next time he goes to pick up a pen (which is also, hopefully, theirs).

I'm not the only one who thinks this. A doctor is quoted in the article saying the exact same thing I've said - except that he (as well as the entire article) acts like it's a major fucking surprise that this has happened...as if these marketing strategies were all unrelated phenomena, and oh, look what happened, sales went up!!! You've got to be kidding me. Increased sales should be no surprise - they were completely planned.

This is sick, guys. Absolutely sick that these drug companies would intentionally increase sales of a potentially harmful drug. Sick that they would play their ads during the commercial breaks of specific shows, in order to target a certain sex (and, no doubt, a certain class) of people. Sick that all this is going on right in front of our faces while we're screaming "Make war on drugs!" Sick that we then exclaim, "Hey, where did all these prescriptions for sleeping pills come from?"

Now that my rant has reached its end, I don't know what to say, except that you just don't watch TV or do anything else that would enable the capitalist sharks in our economy to brainwash you into "needing" whatever it is that they are selling.

Oh, and if you really want to solve your insomnia, try this first:
  • Stop drinking caffinated beverages - trust me, they are awful for all areas of your health. Don't believe the media hype that promotes coffee as a health food.
  • Don't exercise late at night - you'll have a harder time getting relaxed enough to fall asleep.
  • While you shouldn't eat right before bed, you also shouldn't go to bed hungry. An empty belly will keep you up just as much a full one.
  • Relieve your stress before bedtime. Write in a journal, send an email to a good friend or family member, post to a blog. Get it off your chest before you try to go to sleep, or you'll stay awake worrying about it.
  • Keep a note pad by your bed. Jot down anything that stays in your head for more than a minute, so that you don't have to worry about forgetting to take care of this or that the next day.
  • Don't take naps late in that day. Anything past early or mid afternoon will keep you from falling asleep.
  • Try to keep a regular schedule. If you go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every day, your body will fall into a routine, and you'll find both transitions become easier for you.

And here's what they don't tell you about sleeping pills: they disrupt your sleep patterns. You won't go into REM sleep, which has brain waves very much like the first stage of sleep even though it's the farthest into sleep; your body is supposed to alternate between REM and slow-wave sleep throughout the night. And without REM sleep, you'll wake up feeling like you haven't gotten enough rest (or need way more than eight hours of sleep). A drug-induced sleep is a heavy sleep, but too heavy. Alcohol will also disrupt your sleep patterns in this manner, which is one of the reasons why people feel like hell after they've had a lot to drink the night before (especially if they went to bed drunk or just plain passed out).

I don't mean to sound like a hippie (or maybe I do)...but natural is better. Except for those little bright red berries - stay away from those. :o)

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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