The Extent and Impact of Insomniaas a Public Health Problem

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Insomnia is common in all age groups. Differences in definitions and assessment methods of insomnia cause difficulties in comparisons between studies. About 20% of middle-aged adults and about one third of the elderly report symptoms of insomnia, which are about 1.5 times more common in women than in men. However, insomnia disorders are not as common as insomnia symptoms. Indications are that prevalence differs greatly between countries. Insomnia is comorbid with many chronic illnesses, and data suggest that insomnia indicates a greater risk for depression. Both self-help methods and prescribed hypnotics are widely used in people with insomnia. Estimates of the economic costs of insomnia vary, illustrating the difficulty in assessing its consequences. With all of its associated health and quality-of-life issues, insomnia is justifiably considered an important public health problem.

Primary Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2002;4(suppl 1):8-12