TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan tops Asia in per capita sleeping pill consumption, with 39 sleeping pills a year, according to Taiwan Pharmacist Association (藥師公會全國聯合會) Chairman Gu Bo-ren (古博仁) .
Gu said the number of Taiwanese who took prescription sleeping tablets grew from 4.12 million in 2016 to 4.26 million in 2018. Also, the number of prescribed sleeping pills grew from 853 million in 2016 to 918 million in 2018, an average of 39 pills per person, which costs the National Health Insurance NT$2.09 billion a year.
The widespread use of sleeping pills suggests that Taiwanese have problems sleeping. Chang Hu-ming (張祜銘), a doctor who specializes in drug addiction treatment at Songde Branch of Taipei City Hospital, said over one fourth of Taiwanese have sleeping problems and many turn to sleeping pills.
Improper use of sleeping pills may not improve sleeping patterns and cause drug overuse and addiction, Chang said. Zolpidem and Benzodiazepines (BZD), for example, can cause side effects or complications and must be used according to the doctor’s directions.
Taking appropriate sleeping drugs, getting into the habit of rising from bed at the same time every day, and avoiding “rajasic” (bitter, sour, salty, spicy or pungent) foods can also decrease dependence on sleeping pills, Chang added.