National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 2: Insomnia

What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a disorder defined as chronic complaints of unsatisfactory sleep, despite having an adequate opportunity to sleep.1

Insomnia complaints can include difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking up too early, and/or having sleep that is not refreshing2. These four complaints depend on many factors, including age, and may indicate other disorders such as circadian rhythm disorders rather than insomnia — adolescents have more problems falling asleep3,  while older adults have more trouble staying asleep (particularly in the early morning hours). It is not unusual for patients to report more than one of these insomnia complaints4.

Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint in the United States, affecting as many as 30 million Americans5.  Surveys have reported that as many as one-third (30 – 40 percent) of the general U.S. population suffers from insomnia; about 10-15 percent of all U.S. adults report having severe and chronic insomnia that affects their daytime functioning6, 7,   (defined, in this study, as insomnia that lasted for at least 30 days8).

In 2016, the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Health Index® found that two-thirds of Americans had trouble either falling or staying asleep—two symptoms of insomnia—at least one night in the past week9.  Other National Sleep Foundation surveys have found that more than half of all U.S. adults (54 percent) report having experienced at least one symptom of insomnia a few times a week within the last year; one-third (33 percent) report they have experienced at least one symptom of insomnia every night or almost every night10.

References

  1. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2013.
  2. Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research, Colten HR and Altevogt BM (ed.), Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem, Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 2006.
  3. Ohayon MM, Carskadon MA, Guilleminault C, Vitiello MV. Meta-analysis of quantitative sleep parameters from childhood to old age in healthy individuals: developing normal sleep values across the human lifespan. Sleep. 2004;27:1255-1273.
  4. Hohagen F, Kappler C, Schramm E, et al. Sleep onset insomnia, sleep maintaining insomnia and insomnia with early morning awakening: temporal stability of subtypes in a longitudinal study on general practice attenders. Sleep. 1994;17:551-554.
  5. Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research, Colten HR and Altevogt BM (ed.), Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem, Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 2006.
  6. Roth, T. Insomnia: Definition, prevalence, etiology, and consequences. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2007;Supplement to 3(5):S7-S10.
  7. National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Can’t Sleep? What to Know About Insomnia, Arlington: NSF, no date. Available at: http://sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/insomnia-and-sleep
  8. Schutte-Rodin, S., Broch L, Buysse, D, Dorsey C, Sateia, M, Clinical guideline for the evaluation and management of chronic insomnia in adults. J Clin Sleep Med;4(5):487-504, 2008.
  9. National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Sleep Health Index®. Arlington: NSF, 2016. Available at: https://sleepfoundation.org/media-center/press-release/millions-fall-asleep-behind-the-wheel.
  10. National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Sleep in America poll. Arlington: NSF, 2005. Available at: http://sleepfoundation.org.