Are prescription sleep meds for workers a good thing or a bad thing for employers? A little bit of both.
No doubt you’ve seen those TV ads for prescription sleep meds.
You know the ones: People sleep peacefully as a glowing butterfly floats overhead. Abe Lincoln playing chess with a groundhog.
Ever since the ads launched, use of these meds has skyrocketed.
The good news: Proper use of the meds can have its advantages for employers. When workers get enough sleep they’re more productive and energetic at work.
The bad news: Unnecessary prescriptions appear to be on the rise — with employers getting clobbered by heavy costs on their health plans.
The cause? Employees with sleep disorders are heading to their primary care doctor and not a sleep specialist.
For people with legitimate sleep disorders (sleep apnea, restless-leg syndrome, etc.), there may be treatments out there other than “sleeping pills” that may help — and even eliminate any future need for costly prescription meds.
Meds as the last resort
The TV drug ads may give employees the impression that medication is the only — or the best — solution to their problem.
But many people can successfully combat sleepiness without meds.
Tell them to try these fixes first:
- cutting caffeine intake in the afternoon and at night
- reducing alcohol consumption
- exercising more — but not in the four hours prior to bedtime, and
- establishing — and sticking to — set sleep and wake-up times.