Some foods can kill you, and it turns out that a good night’s sleep can do it too–IF you use sleeping pills. According to a recent study, patients taking prescription sleep aids on a regular basis were nearly five times as likely as non-users to die over a period of two and a half years, and even people who took fewer than 20 pills a year were at risk. They were also more likely to develop cancer. Americans filled 60 million prescriptions for sleeping pills last year, up from 47 million in 2006.

But before you insomniacs panic, you need to know that some critics disagree with this study, because it didn’t prove that sleeping pills CAUSE death, only that there may be a correlation between the two. People who use sleep aids tend to be sicker than those who don’t, and their deaths may simply be a reflection of poorer health. 

And doctors aren’t prescribing these as often as they used to. In the March 13 edition of the New York Times, Roni Caryn Rabin quotes Dr. Nancy A. Collop as saying, "If someone comes to me on a sleeping pill, usually my tactic is to try to take them off it."

One problem is that people don’t understand how much sleep they should be getting. Rabin quotes Dr. Steven Woloshin as saying, "The definition of insomnia is that you get less than six and a half hours of sleep, and it takes you 30 minutes or more to fall asleep. But even when the drugs work better than placebos, and they don’t always, people still don’t fall asleep in less than 30 minutes, and they still don’t sleep much longer than six hours."

We know that people are thinner in Colorado, but what state has the most insomnia? We don’t know exactly where this is, but we DO know it’s somewhere in the South.

Analyzing nationwide data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers produced a state-by-state sleep maps for the United States, revealing that residents of Southern states suffer from the most sleep disturbances and daytime fatigue, while residents on the West Coast report the LEAST amount of problems (could it be the soothing sound of those ocean waves?)

Sleep researcher Michael A. Grandner says, "Sleep disturbance is a major public health concern. However, geographic dispersion of sleep problems, and the factors that may play a role in why some states or regions get better sleep, have been largely unexplored."

Of the states where data was collected, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and West Virginia ranked the highest in each category. Many of the states that report worse sleep and fatigue problems are the same states that tend to report higher prevalence of obesity.

No matter WHERE you live, if you’ve been eating too much (and not sleeping enough), you need Anne Strieber’s famous diet book "What I Learned From the Fat Years!" Using scientific principles, she devised a diet that helped her to lose 100 pounds and YOU CAN TOO, and at less than $5, it costs MUCH LESS than the ineffective diet books you’ll find in stores.

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