Sleep medications industry worth €83 million

Today (Friday) is not just the day for a national strike, it is World Sleep Day – and marking the occasion, an article in Jornal de Notícias has shown how the sleep medication industry is worth an eye-opening €83 million in Portugal.

Data from the National Association of Pharmacies (ANF) shows that the purchase of non-prescription sleeping pills increased 8% in 2014 (from 702,305 to 758,514), while the sale of other non-medical products advertised as ‘sleep enhancers’ went up 44%.

This news comes at time when around half of Portuguese are believed to suffer from insomnia and other sleep-related problems.

Neurologist Ana Paula Santos told JN that the numbers are due to people’s “constant stress”.

“They work extra-time, and then still have children to take care of,” she said.

Sleep problems are also affecting children and youngsters, “who are logged onto the Internet until bedtime which creates excessive stimulations when they should be calming down”.

But is sleep medication the solution to insomnias and other sleep-related issues?

“Only as a last resort,” says Miguel Meira e Cruz, president of the Portuguese Association of Chronobiology and Sleep Medicine (APCMS), stressing:

“Sleep brought on by medication is not the same as natural sleep”. In fact, medication may actually aggravate symptoms for people who suffer from respiratory problems and issues like sleep apnea.

“First, we have to change our habits, our behaviour before we go to sleep,” he said.

‘Linha do Sono’ launched to help the sleep-deprived

In order to “provide support and offer advice” to people suffering from insomnia and other sleep problems, a helpline entitled ‘Linha do Sono’ is being launched today.

“The main goal is to improve the quality of sleep of the Portuguese,” Filipa Jardim da Silva, from the Oficina de Psicologia in Lisbon, told Lusa news agency.

By simply calling 707100 015, insomniacs will be able to seek help from two specialised psychologists.

The service is available between 11.30am-16.30pm. If you call out of these hours, you can leave your number and one of the psychologists will call you back.

However, like all 707 numbers, a fee is charged for every minute you are on the phone.

The idea for the helpline came about following a study conducted last year by the Oficina de Psicologia clinic, which found that 54% of Portuguese said they felt tired after a night’s sleep, while 45% admitted they had trouble sleeping due to “stress”.

“It was this worrying data that lead us to create Portugal’s first sleep helpline,” Jardim da Silva added.