A sleep conference held in Auckland this week is warning of the dangers of driving on sleeping pills and the alarming number of long-term sleeping pill users.
The Sleep DownUnder conference will hear from 500 Australian and New Zealand sleep experts from Thursday until Saturday.
Research presented at the conference includes results from an Australian survey showing a quarter of sleeping pill users think it is safe to drive 3 -4 hours after taking them.
"Since the administration of these medications can cause significant impairment on individual's driving performance, driving after a few hours of taking the medication is dangerous," lead researcher Fatema-Tun-Naher Sake said.
Mrs Sake was concerned by the finding that 70 per cent of survey participants had been taking sleep pills for at least a year when they were only designed for short-term use.
Headline speaker Dr Fang Han will present his research that shows a link between the flu and the chronic sleep disorder narcolepsy.
The sleep disorder affects one in every 2000 people who suffer from sudden sleep attacks and overwhelming daytime drowsiness.
Dr Han's discovery brings researchers closer to finding a treatment and potential cure for the three million narcolepsy sufferers worldwide.