Thirty to 40 percent of Americans experience insomnia symptoms every year, according to the American Sleep Association, and 10 to 15 percent have some sort of sleep disorder. Because sleep is such an important part of our lives, we are willing to try a host of fixes, from mattresses and pillows to white-noise machines and herbal tonics. One fix, for many people, is sleeping pills. The sleep-aid industry is a $1.8 billion market, and pharmacists filled about 48 million prescriptions in 2009, according to health-care research company IMS Health. But more frequently, as more stories of side effects and dependency surface, doctors and sleep experts suggest seeking other ways to say goodnight. Meena Khan, MD a sleep researcher at Ohio State University, said those who have trouble sleeping need to address the cause of insomnia, not mask it.
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