Use of sleeping pills has doubled among Norwegian youth
Ten years ago 1,6 per cent of Norwegian youth between the ages of 15 and 19 used prescription sleep medicine. Last year that number had more than doubled.
3,7 per cent of Norwegian youths now use prescription pills given to them by a doctor to sleep better, according to the national broadcaster NRK (link in Norwegian). Some sleeping aids were made prescription free on January 1 2020.
There's no simple cause for the increase, but sleep researcher Børge Sivertsen at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) points to two possible explanations.
"There's more openness about sleeping problems now. More people are treated for it. At the same time, the threshold for prescribing sleeping pills has been lowered," Sivertsen says to NRK.
He says that the NIPH aren't entirely positive to the fact that this group has seen such a large increase in the use of sleep medicine, as they are at a time in life where sleep patterns change naturally.
"It's problematic that we've begun medicating this age group at such a large scale," says Siversen.
He also points out that many sleeping pills can be addictive.
"Most packages say that they aren't to be used for more than a few weeks," says the researcher.