National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 2: Insomnia

What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is defined as chronic complaints of unsatisfactory sleep, despite having an adequate opportunity to sleep1

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. 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 much 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 functioning.6,7 (Chronic insomnia is generally defined as lasting at least 30 days.8)

According to the 2005 National Sleep Foundation’s national survey, more than half of all U.S. adults (54 percent) experience 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 night9.

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 in America poll. Arlington: NSF, 2005. Available at: http://sleepfoundation.org.