Not Enough Sleep

The role of medications in American society has continued to increase dramatically starting with post World War Two era. The first medicalized form of drug or prescription I view is that of penicillin and other antibiotics. Since then the media has promoted such medicalization of many different conditions. By saying this I mean that something that may be a natural bodily symptom or process has begun to be looked down upon by society.   Medicalization has gotten to the point where people have psychological issues because of things they feel uncomfortable with pertaining to their body. As I have stated earlier, the media is the culprit. Television, radio commercials, and magazines, all have advertisements that sell something to make someone appear better looking or instantly get rid of a problem. For example, the lecture on birth control talked about menstruation and the use of birth control to aid in the process of menstruation. Menstruation is one of the body’s most natural processes and now through the media, pharmaceutical companies sell medications such as birth control and make people of all genders believe it is an unnecessary evil that can be avoided. The influence that the advertisements have on our society is disheartening. Why are normal bodily functions now viewed as horrible diseases because of what some people think?

One medicalization of a body process is drugs that help people sleep. Yes in some cases there are people with complete sleep apnea where the lack of sleep continuously affect their day-to-day process. However, there are drugs that just help people sleep at ease. Usually people cannot sleep due to simple fixes such as consuming less caffeine, or too much stress. ZZZQuil is a drug that helps people stay asleep. Their slogan is, “Not for colds. Not for pain. Just for sleep.” The only medical information a consumer will find is what they receive from commercials or on the packaging once the drug is purchased. There are no patient-doctor interactions because you can buy it at a local drug store such as a CVS or even a Meijer. It is an over-the-counter medication.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Sultan Qiblawi says:

    Sleep deprivation, or even lack of sleep is now becoming a very evident problem in today’s fast paced world. With computers, phones, and internet at the tip of our fingertips at all times, it has been more difficult to sleep nowadays. Historically, our sleep-wake cycles have been kept constant by the sun as the only light source. Since technology has progressed in the last century, we have introduced many light sources and our sleep cycles have been thrown off by this. This has made sleep-aids a very lucrative industry. It seems that everyone has a problem with sleeping, and with our increasingly busy world, sleeping soundly and waking up early with a lot of energy has become imperative. I think that with all of these cultural factors it is important to seek medicalization of this ailment. The article by Conrad and Potter describes medicalization as a collective action and not from medical imperialism. Sleep apnea or even difficulty to sleep requires medicalization because, similar to what Conrad said about ADHD, the cultural context of the ailment is immense. I believe that lack of sleep translates to many other problems in modern society and it is very important to put a stop to that if it is necessary. By having such a major impact on society, I would say that lack of sleep/difficulty to sleep is a real disease and must be treated as such.

    Conrad, Peter, and Deborah Potter. “From Hyperactive Children To ADHD Adults: Observations On The Expansion Of Medical Categories.” Social Problems 47, no. 4 (2000): 559-582.

  2. Colleen Drabek says:

    Not being able to sleep well would have not been considered an “illness” in the past. Not sleeping well is almost a protective feature to an extent. For example, you can’t sleep well it may be because you are worrying about something job related. This will most likely cause you to take care of the problem—a sort of intrinsic motivation—so that you can be reward by being able to sleep better at night.
    Our culture is fixated on everything being medicated. If you cannot sleep well, there must be something terribly wrong and it must be medicated immediately! As stated in the Conrad article, “medicalization is usually a product of collective action”. This greatly describes how political, economical, and historical events all play into the biomedicalization of this “illness”. Economically, the more things that can be deemed an illness means the more products that can be created to cure this illness and the more money that can be made by big business. Also, in the political arena, lots of politicians have jobs that deal with drug regulation and the constant invention of drugs fuels this. Historically, people have bought these medications in the past as a last ditch effort to fix their illness. People will continue to buy these items because they are utterly desperate. Therefore, Conrad couldn’t have said it better when he said that multiple factors play into the medicalization.

    Conrad, Peter and Deborah Potter. “From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories.” Social Problems 47, no. 4 (2000): 580-582.

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