Insomnia affects 1 in 4 Americans each year
Sleep deprivation and sleep disorders are a growing public health crisis worldwide. More than 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough quality sleep, and recent studies have shown that inadequate sleep can be as costly to a country’s economy as it can to a person’s health.
Now, a new study has found that one in four Americans, about 25 percent, suffer from acute insomnia every year.
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania conducted the study which is one of the few to not only assess the prevalence of insomnia, but also how “good sleepers” develop and recover from bouts of acute insomnia.
The results will be presented in a poster session at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
Although the study found that 25 percent of Americans suffer from acute insomnia, 75 percent of these individuals recovered without developing persistent sleep problems.
Acute insomnia is defined as difficulty falling or staying asleep for three nights per week up to two consecutive weeks per three months. Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, occurs at least three nights a week for more than three months.
“Whether caused by stress, illness, medications, or other factors, poor sleep is very common,” said Michael Perlis, the study’s senior author. “These findings reveal new insights about the paths that acute insomnia takes and can inform interventions that target poor sleep and help people recover sustained sufficient sleep.”
The researchers examined how “good sleepers,” people without insomnia who take less than 15 minutes to fall asleep and spends fewer than 15 minutes awake during the night, develop acute insomnia or persistent poor sleep.
For the study, 1,435 US adults who were verified as good sleepers were tracked for one year. The participants kept a sleep diary and were given regular assessments of daytime function, stress and life events, and medical and mental health.
During the year the participants were monitored, 25 percent experienced acute insomnia but 75 percent of those recovered within 12 months. 21 percent of those who experienced insomnia didn’t recover, and six percent developed chronic insomnia.
The study sheds insight into how acute insomnia can transform into a chronic problem and could help with future research examining what factors influence sleep recovery.