DARIEN, IL – More than half of Americans “always” or “often” have trouble falling asleep (54%) or staying asleep (53%), according to a new survey commissioned by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. On Wednesday, June 21, the “shortest night of the year,” the AASM will hold the 10th annual Insomnia Awareness Night in collaboration with the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine to drive awareness of chronic insomnia and its treatments.
“Chronic insomnia is more than just the occasional sleepless night – it’s an ongoing problem that impacts overall health and well-being,” said Jennifer Martin, a licensed clinical psychologist and immediate past president of the AASM. “When you can’t sleep, the situation can feel hopeless, but chronic insomnia is treatable. With Insomnia Awareness Night, we want to help people understand what chronic insomnia is, and how they can get help.”
Symptoms and Impact
Chronic insomnia involves difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or regularly waking up earlier than desired, despite allowing enough time in bed for sleep, with symptoms occurring at least three times per week for at least three months. Symptoms of chronic insomnia include daytime fatigue or sleepiness; feeling dissatisfied with sleep; having trouble concentrating; feeling depressed, anxious or irritable; and having low motivation or low energy.
Chronic insomnia can be detrimental to physical, mental and emotional health, negatively affecting overall wellness and daily functioning. Additionally, chronic insomnia can lead to increased risks for depression, anxiety, substance abuse and motor vehicle accidents, Alzheimer’s disease and Type 2 diabetes.
The first-line recommended treatment for chronic insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. CBT-I combines behavioral strategies, such as setting a consistent sleep schedule and getting out of bed when you are struggling to sleep, with cognitive strategies, such as replacing fears about sleeplessness with more helpful expectations. CBT-I recommendations are customized to address each patient’s individual needs and symptoms.
“Cognitive behavioral therapy provides customized strategies for those experiencing chronic insomnia,” said Michael Grandner, a licensed clinical psychologist and president of SBSM. “Clinicians who are certified in behavioral sleep medicine work with individuals to develop the right treatment plan to fit their life.”
Americans Turning to Melatonin
The 2023 AASM survey found that 64% of people have taken melatonin, with nearly a third of people (29%) using it occasionally or on a regular basis to help them sleep. However, a clinical practice guideline published by the AASM suggests that clinicians should not use melatonin for adults to treat chronic insomnia. Those who suspect they have chronic insomnia should work with a health care professional or licensed clinical psychologist to find the best treatment option before implementing any self-directed treatments for insomnia.
“It’s understandable that those who have chronic insomnia want to try anything to help them sleep, but melatonin is not recommended for this condition. There are other, better treatments, like cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, that can lead to long-term relief,” said Martin.
Insomnia Awareness Night
Since 2014, Insomnia Awareness Night has been held nationally to provide education and support for those living with chronic insomnia. To learn more about Insomnia Awareness Night, visit http://sleepeducation.org/insomnia-awareness-night. To learn more about the importance of healthy sleep or to find a local AASM-accredited member sleep center in your area, visit SleepEducation.org.
About the Survey
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine commissioned an online survey of 2,005 adults in the U.S. The overall margin of error fell within +/- 2 percentage points with a confidence interval of 95 percent. Fieldwork took place between March 24-29, 2023. Atomik Research is an independent market research agency.
About the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Established in 1975, the AASM advances sleep care and enhances sleep health to improve lives. The AASM has a combined membership of 12,000 accredited sleep centers and individuals, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals who care for patients with sleep disorders. As the leader in the sleep field, the AASM sets standards and promotes excellence in sleep medicine health care, education and research.
About the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine
The Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine (SBSM) is an interdisciplinary organization committed to advancing the scientific approach to studying the behavioral, psychological and physiological dimensions of sleep and sleep disorders and the application of this knowledge to the betterment of individuals and societies worldwide (https://www.behavioralsleep.org/).