Objective: The present study was conducted to clarify the prevalence of the use of alcohol and hypnotic medication as sleep aids, and associated factors, in the general population in Japan.
Methods: The survey was conducted in June 2000, using self-administered questionnaires, targeting a population that was selected randomly from among 300 communities throughout Japan. A total of 18,205 responses indicating alcohol use and 16,804 responses indicating hypnotic medication use were analyzed.
Results: The prevalence of alcohol use as a sleep aid one or more times per week was 48.3% among men and 18.3% among women. The prevalence of the use of hypnotic medication one or more times per week was 4.3% among men and 5.9% among women. The prevalence of alcohol used as a sleep aid increased gradually for men and women up to age 55-59 years and 40-44 years, respectively, and then declined with increasing age thereafter. The prevalence of the use of hypnotic medication among both men and women showed a trend toward a gradual increase with age. The use of alcohol as a sleep aid was associated with "difficulty maintaining sleep," but no such problem was associated with the use of hypnotic medication.
Conclusions: Alcohol is a more popular sleep aid than hypnotic medication. The factors associated with the use of alcohol and of hypnotic medication are different.