INSOMNIA SUFFERERS GET WAKE UP CALL
Studies have shown about one third of the population experience insomnia, but new American research has found less than five percent seek medical help for the problem.
Estimates of insomnia in the general population range from 10 to 48 percent, depending on the definition, and 10 percent report it to be a chronic problem. However, the recent study by the Pharmacoepidemiology Research Unit at Washington State University found under five percent of US adults see a doctor specifically for lack of sleep.
The study from 1995 to 1996, found the majority of those who do seek medical help for sleeping problems were women, with a mean age of 53 years. Sixteen percent were diagnosed with insomnia. Nearly 60 percent had a mental health disorder and 30 percent were diagnosed with depression.
Among these patients, 16 percent were prescribed hyposedative sleeping pills, and 48 percent were prescribed antidepressants.
The link between insomnia and mental health problems has been known for sometime. A mental health disorder is a risk factor for the development of insomnia, and lack of sleep can lead to a number of psychological problems.
Insomnia is more than twice as prevalent among patients diagnosed with depression.
Although patients with chronic insomnia are at higher risk for developing mental disorders, substance abuse, and heart disease, the study's authors note that doctors underestimate the rate of sleeping problems among their patients.
The researchers recommend more education among doctors and patients about sleeping disorders.
People experiencing ongoing sleeping problems should not delay seeking professional advice.