Cost of a good night’s sleep rises to £50M

May 11, 2012

The NHS in England is spending almost £50m each year to ensure the nation gets a good night’s sleep as job insecurity and money worries bite during the economic downturn, according to new research* out today (11 May 2012). Insomnia is a significant problem which now affects more than one in three adults**.

The Co-operative Pharmacy has investigated the provision of sleeping pills by the health service and found costs have risen 17 per cent in four years between 2007/08 and 2010/11, up from £42m to £49.2m. England spends £1.20 per head on prescribed sleeping pills**.

Costs across the English regions have risen by up to 36 percent (East Midlands) and cost as much as £1.56 per person (North West).***

Last year pharmacies dispensed more than 15.2 million items to aid sleep according to the figures obtained under Freedom of Information legislation from the NHS Business Services Authority by The Co-operative Pharmacy.

Zoplicone was dispensed to more than 5.2m people, making it the most popular sleeping tablet.

The North West is the top spending and dispensing region for sleeping pills, spending over £8.5m and dispensing almost 2½ million sleeping medication items.

The biggest increase in use over the last four years has been in the East of England, up 10 percent, followed by the East Midlands which has risen over 9 percent.

Mandeep Mudhar, NHS Business Director, The Co-operative Pharmacy, said: “Our research shows that millions of people suffer from a lack of sleep each year and are seeking medical help for the problem. While usage has risen steadily, the costs to the NHS have risen disproportionately, with costs going up at a greater rate.

“However some sleeping drugs are only recommended for short term use because they can lead to psychological dependency and lose their effectiveness over time. We would urge people who are suffering with insomnia or their use of sleeping pills to discuss their concerns with a pharmacist or their doctor.”

Health authorities ranked by items dispensed:

1. North West
2. East of England
3. South West
4. West Midlands
5. London
6. Yorkshire and Humber
7. South East Coast
8. East Midlands
9. South Central
10. North East

Health authority region  Items dispensed in 2007/08 Items dispensed in 2010/11 Items percentage increase / decrease Cost of items dispensed in 2007/08 Cost of items dispensed in 2010/11 Cost of items percentage increase / decrease Cost per person** in 2010/11
East of England 1,623,222 1,788,345 +10% £4,630,602 £5,478,785 +18% £1.20
East Midlands 1,140,640 1,248,547 +9.4% £3,231,650 £4,426,755 +36% £1.26
London 1,457,421 1,547,230 +6.1% £3,908,650 £4,898,312 +25% 80p
North East 850,381
888,780 +4.5% £2,016,331 £2,564,204 +27% £1.23
North West 2,476,933
2,486,578 0.3% £7,679,133 £8,595,620 +11%
South Central 967,292
1,030,982 +6.5% £2,912,785 £3,336,364 +14% £1.03
South East Coast 1,331,156 1,444,569 +8.5% £4,221,540 £5,002,471 +18% £1.46
South West 1,651,358 1,760,436 +6.6% £4,666,813 £4,629,560 -0.8% £1.11
West Midlands 1,476,904 1,580,824 +7% £4,395,259 £5,746,225 +30%
Yorkshire and Humber 1,480,553 1,476,416 -0.3% £4,405,874 £4,561,738 +3.5% £1.09

Notes to editors

*Freedom of Information Act used to obtain number of dispensed items and costs for sleeping pills for 2007/8, 2008/9, 2009/10 and 2010/11 from all English primary care trusts and strategic health authorities.

** Population statistics per strategic health authority and based on males and females aged 18 and above

***Some products in the data may have been prescribed for another use such as Diazepam which may be used as a muscle relaxant as well as being used to treat anxiety or insomnia.

About The Co-operative 

The Co-operative Pharmacy – part of The Co-operative Group – is the UK’s third largest pharmacy chain with nearly 800 branches.

The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over seven million consumers.  It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider, the third largest pharmacy chain and one of Britain’s largest farming operations. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies over 50 commitments in these areas.

The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 100,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn.  Further information is available at

For further information contact:
Craig Noonan
PR Manager – Specialist Retail
The Co-operative Group
Tel: 0161 266 3589 / 07702 505439

Alex Wilson
Senior Public Relations Officer – Pharmacy
The Co-operative Group
Tel: 0161 2663416 / 07540 641368