DARIEN, IL – Monday, March 13, is the fourth annual Insomnia Awareness Day, which was instituted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) to bring attention to this common sleep disorder. Many people in the U.S. suffer from chronic insomnia, with older adults and women at a higher risk of developing the condition.
“A person with chronic insomnia has consistently poor sleep. This means they have trouble sleeping at least three nights per week, and that the problem persists for at least three months,” said Jennifer Martin, PhD, who is a member of the AASM board of directors. “Although chronic insomnia is common, it is very treatable. The sleep team at an accredited sleep center can help people suffering with insomnia to find the best treatment option. Treating insomnia improves a person’s health, functioning and mood.”
Symptoms of Insomnia
Insomnia involves difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or regularly waking up earlier than desired, despite spending enough time in bed to get the sleep a person needs. Symptoms associated with 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.
Impact of Insomnia
Chronic insomnia can be detrimental to physical, mental and emotional health, negatively affecting overall wellness and daily functioning. Data show that health care costs are consistently higher in people with moderate to severe insomnia. If chronic insomnia remains untreated, sufferers are prone to health complications, including an increased risk for depression and hypertension.
Chronic insomnia also has a negative impact on work and school performance, impairing concentration and motivation while increasing the risk of errors and accidents. Research has estimated that insomnia is associated with about 253 million days of lost work each year in the U.S. and more than $100 billion in annual costs, with the majority being spent on indirect costs such as poorer workplace performance, increased health care utilization, and increased accident risk.
The primary treatment for chronic insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), which is effective over the long-term and has no known significant side effects. CBT-I involves a combination of behavioral modification, such as setting a consistent sleep schedule and getting out of bed when you are struggling to sleep, with cognitive strategies, such as replacing unrealistic fears about sleeplessness with more helpful expectations. CBT-I recommendations are customized to address each patient’s individual needs and symptoms.
“Patients with insomnia often have other chronic physical and mental health problems. While treating those problems often is not enough to cure a long-term insomnia disorder, effectively treating other co-occurring problems, such as depression or chronic pain, can also improve sleep,” said Martin. “Given the widespread use of caffeine to combat sleepiness, it also is important to identify whether caffeine, or other substances like alcohol or a medication, is having a negative impact on a person’s ability to sleep well.”
Concerns about insomnia should be discussed with a doctor. Help for an ongoing sleep problem is available from the sleep team at an accredited sleep center.
Visit www.sleepeducation.org for more information or to find a local, AASM-accredited member sleep center.
About the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) improves sleep health and promotes high quality, patient-centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards. The AASM has a combined membership of 11,000 accredited member sleep centers and individual members, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals.