Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to interact with patients who may be seeking an OTC drug or supplement as first-line therapy for short sleep duration.
Failure to obtain quality sleep has been shown to increase the risk of numerous chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.1 In 2020, the CDC reported 34.8% of adults in the United States suffer from short sleep duration.2
Researchers have also been interested in how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected sleep. Data presented by the Cleveland Clinic at the June 2022 Sleep meeting indicate that approximately 50% of people experience sleep disruption following an acute COVID-19 infection.3
Although many pharmacologic therapies are indicated for various sleep disorders, good sleep hygiene and behavioral interventions are important components of proper treatment. Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to interact with patients who may be seeking an OTC drug or supplement as first-line therapy. However, research documenting pharmacist involvement in sleep disorder management is lacking.
A group of researchers from the United Kingdom sought to dig into this topic in their systematic review published in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice February 2023 issue. The team completed a literature search and analyzed 34 studies to identify common themes surrounding pharmacist involvement in sleep disorder management.
Results from the literature search identified several common themes divided by practice setting. In the community setting, pharmacists most commonly engage in screening services and education.
In the hospital setting, it was more common for pharmacists to be involved in deprescribing unnecessary or duplicate hypnotics and sedatives. Researchers also remarked on the differences between various countries. In Australia, an additional role for pharmacists is to counsel patients who receive continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices from their community pharmacies.
Researchers identified several gaps, including the lack of time necessary for community pharmacists to complete a thorough counseling session. They emphasized the need for more formal training and education to increase pharmacists’ confidence.
Pharmacists are currently involved in sleep disorder management in several ways throughout the community and hospital settings. Researchers remarked that improvements in this involvement could come through better education and awareness during school and the development of pharmacist-specific guidelines.4
About the Author
Hannah Monza, PharmD, BCPS, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Danvers, MA.