Insomnia facts and statistics

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Insomnia can involve:

  • difficulty falling asleep
  • stay asleep
  • get up too early

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night. But 1 in 3 American adults don’t get enough sleep.

It tires you out and prevents you from functioning well during the day. Insomnia can be the cause or the result of other health problems, and it can affect anyone.

Insomnia is a common problem. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) reports that when it comes to insomnia in adults:

  • 30-35% have brief symptoms of insomnia
  • 15-20% have short-term insomnia lasting less than 3 months
  • 10 percent have chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least 3 times a week for at least 3 months

A 2019 review article suggests that up to 75 percent of adults aged 65 and over show symptoms of insomnia.

Research report from 2014 found that about one-fifth of young people and tweens had symptoms of insomnia. The prevalence was highest among 11 and 12 year old girls.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) list these risk factors for insomnia:

  • Age. You are more likely to experience insomnia as you get older.
  • Family and genetic history. Certain genes can affect sleep patterns.
  • Environment. Shift work, night work, and jet lag can affect the sleep-wake cycle as well as nighttime noise or light and uncomfortably high or low temperatures.
  • Stress. Worry increases the risk of insomnia. Worrying about not getting enough sleep can make it worse.
  • Sex. More women than men suffer from insomnia, possibly due to hormonal changes. Pregnancy and menopause can also play a role.

Other lifestyle factors that increase the risk of insomnia include:

  • Change your sleep routine often.
  • Being interrupted during sleep.
  • Take long naps during the day.
  • Not getting enough exercise.
  • Consumption of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine or certain drugs.
  • Using electronic devices too close to bedtime.

In 2019, an AASM investigation found that one of the main culprits of sleep restriction was frenzied TV watching. Of the 2,003 adults who responded to the survey:

  • 88% lost sleep to watch multiple episodes of a TV series or stream
  • 72% of adults aged 18 to 34 and 35% of those aged 35 and over have lost sleep while playing video games
  • 66% lost sleep because of reading
  • 60% lacked sleep to watch sports

Sleep disturbances can occur in response to major stressful events, such as natural disasters and violence or war.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a global crisis that appears to have affected our sleep. A February 2020 A study of 5,641 adults living in China examined the impact of the pandemic on sleep. Researchers found a 37% increase in clinical insomnia from before the pandemic at its peak.

In 2020, an observational study found that post-9/11 veterans are particularly vulnerable to insomnia, with 57.2 percent screening positive for insomnia disorder.

There is also a two-way relationship between sleep disturbances and depression. On 90 percent of people with depression have sleep disturbances such as insomnia, hypersomnia, sleep breathing problems or restless legs syndrome.

Lack of sleep, even in the short term, can negatively affect:

  • energy
  • mood
  • work or school performance
  • memory, concentration and decision making
  • security

Speak NIH, insomnia can make health problems worse or increase the risk of developing conditions such as:

  • asthma
  • chronic pain
  • decreased immune response
  • heart problems
  • arterial hypertension
  • mental health problems such as anxiety and depression
  • metabolic syndrome, diabetes
  • overweight, obesity
  • pregnancy complications
  • substance use disorders

2019 research suggests that insomnia in the elderly increases the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

A Benchmarking 2017 on the link between sleep duration and mortality found that compared to a person who sleeps between 7 and 9 hours per night:

  • A person who sleeps on average less than 6 hours per night has a 13% higher risk of death.
  • A person who sleeps between 6 and 7 hours a night has a 7 percent higher risk of death.

These statistics include all causes of death, including car accidents, strokes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

A recent study of 487,200 people in China looked at the risk of insomnia over a period of about 10 years. Participants were on average 51 years old at the start of the study and had no history of stroke or heart disease.

Those with three common insomnia symptoms (difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking up too early, or difficulty concentrating during the day) were 18% more likely to develop a stroke, heart attack, and diseases similar to those who had no symptoms of insomnia.

A 2011 survey involving 7,428 employed adults in the United States suggested an annual loss of $ 63 billion in job performance due to insomnia.

A 2017 study projected the overall cost of sleep deprivation in the United States to:

  • $ 299 billion to $ 434 billion in 2020
  • From 330 to 467 billion dollars in 2030

Research of 2019 found that one-fifth of older people are prescribed sleeping pills.

Data from CDC shows that about 4% of people aged 20 and over use prescription sleeping pills, including 5% of women and 3.1% of men. Prescription drugs for insomnia include:

  • benzodiazepine receptor agonists, such as:
    • estazolam
    • lorazepam
    • temazepam
    • triazolam
  • non-benzodiazepine receptor agonists, comprising:
    • eszopiclone (Lunesta)
    • zaleplon (Sonata)
    • zolpidem (Ambien)
  • melatonin receptor agonists, like ramelteon (Rozerem)
  • histamine receptor agonists, like doxepin (Silenor)
  • orexin receptor agonists, including suvorexant (Belsomra) and lemborexant (Dayvigo)

Other drugs, such as antidepressants, are sometimes prescribed off-label for the treatment of insomnia.

This means that a doctor prescribes a drug for a use that is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because he deems it to be medically appropriate for his patient. And some antihistamines and over-the-counter supplements, like melatonin, are used as sleeping pills.

Prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills and supplements can cause side effects and interact with other medications. Most are for short term use.

Always consult your doctor before taking them.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a effective first-line treatment for insomnia. CBT is a short-term therapy that can help you learn to change your thoughts and behaviors to make it easier to sleep.

Other therapies for insomnia are:

  • talk therapy
  • relaxation or meditation
  • sleep education
  • sleep restriction therapy
  • stimuli control therapy
  • light therapy

Certain healthy habits can make it easier to fall asleep and maintain sleep. These include:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, if possible.
  • Keep the bedroom cool, quiet, and free from artificial light sources, such as electronic devices.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco in the evening and do not eat large meals in the hours before bed.
  • Exercise regularly during the day, but not within 5-6 hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid afternoon naps.
  • Take an hour before bed to relax and unwind.

If you’ve had symptoms of insomnia for 2 weeks and can’t get back on track, consider making an appointment with a primary care doctor.

Insomnia can be both a symptom and a cause of various serious health problems. Depending on your symptoms and the physical exam, your doctor may refer you to a specialist to help you get the treatment that’s right for you.


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