Sleep Study A Pipe Dream?

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AP
They're not just sleepless in Seattle, says a new poll from the National Sleep Foundation.

As CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports, half the nation is tossing and turning at night, too sleepy for sex, nodding off at the wheel and falling down on the job.

According to the poll, half of adults report frequent insomnia and 77 percent say their partner has a sleep problem, with snoring being the most common complaint.

The poll concludes the nation is in "crisis." In fact, it says, there's an "epidemic," and more people should be discussing their sleep problems with their doctor.

But before you're convinced that we've become a nation of walking zombies, you might want to consider what we found when we checked into who funds the National Sleep Foundation: companies that make - you guessed it - sleeping pills and other insomnia remedies.

The National Sleep Foundation wouldn't tell us how much money it actually gets from drug companies, like the makers of Ambien. But the foundation points out it doesn't endorse any specific product.

Consumer watchdog Dr. Sidney Wolfe says it still serves the same purpose.

"Although they're not saying you should be on a sleeping pill, they're saying go to the doctor and that doctor will sell you a sleeping pill in a large proportion of instances," says author Dr. Sid Wolfe.

Wolfe, who wrote "Worst Pills, Best Pills," patients will be sold these pills, even if it's not what they really need.

Noted sleep doctor Meir Kryger volunteers for the National Sleep Foundation.

Asked if the poll's credibility is hurt by the fact that the foundation is heavily funded by the pharmaceutical industry, Kryger says: "I guess it might in some people's mind. In my own mind, I'm prepared to volunteer a great deal of my time because the foundation has done a lot of things that have absolutely nothing to do with the pharmaceutical industry."

Whether America's sleepiness is a real epidemic or just a pipe dream of the drug industry, there's little doubt that we could all benefit from a good night's rest.