The following statements reflect the National Sleep Foundation’s position on treatment of insomnia.
1. Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint among adults. Sleep is a vital component of health and has a tremendous impact on Americans’ daily lives. It affects how well people think, work and interact with others. For many Americans, getting the sleep they need to be at their best is not easy.
The National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep in America® poll routinely finds that more than half of respondents report at least one symptom of insomnia a few nights a week. Insomnia impacts millions of Americans, their families and social networks, as well as the public’s health.
2. Untreated insomnia is detrimental. When people do not get adequate sleep, they accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to "pay back" if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job and on the road.
3. Effective and safe treatments for insomnia are necessary. Too many Americans self-medicate to treat their insomnia. The National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America® poll asks respondents how often they use various sleep aids specifically to help them sleep. Respondents are almost always more likely to report relying on alcohol, beer and wine than an over-the-counter aid or sleep medication prescribed by a doctor. Alcohol is not a recommended sleep aid as it actually disrupts sleep and can cause other long-term negative health effects. More effective and safe options for treating insomnia may help to curb this behavior.
4. Patients and their physicians need more choices for treating insomnia. While the National Sleep Foundation recognizes that every sleep treatment may not work for every insomnia sufferer, patients and their healthcare providers should have access to a wide variety of treatment choices. Patients should be empowered to ask for and receive the best possible help for their insomnia from their healthcare provider.
The National Sleep Foundation offers many additional resources about insomnia on its website at www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia.
About the National Sleep Foundation
The National Sleep Foundation is dedicated to improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy. It is well-known for its annual Sleep in America® poll, Sleep Awareness Week® and Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®. The Foundation is a charitable, educational and scientific not-for-profit organization located in Washington, DC. Its membership includes researchers and clinicians focused on sleep medicine, health professionals, patients, families affected by drowsy driving and more than 900 healthcare facilities. www.sleepfoundation.org.