June features the shortest nights of the year, but for those living with chronic insomnia, every night is long. That’s why the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine (SBSM) are working to raise awareness of the disease with Insomnia Awareness Night on June 22, 2021.
More than an occasional restless night, chronic insomnia involves difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or regularly waking up earlier than desired, despite allowing enough time in bed for sleep.
“Getting adequate sleep can be difficult, especially in times of increased anxiety or stress, like those we have all experienced recently,” said Jennifer Martin, PhD, a member of the AASM board of directors. “However, chronic insomnia disorder is more persistent, and when left untreated, can lead to a range of long-term health issues.”
Chronic insomnia disorder involves difficulty sleeping and daytime symptoms occurring at least three times per week for at least three months. Its lasting effects are more severe than acute or short-term insomnia, which in most cases resolves itself.
Symptoms of Chronic Insomnia
Symptoms associated with chronic insomnia include daytime fatigue or sleepiness; feeling dissatisfied with sleep; having trouble concentrating; feeling depressed, anxious or irritable; or having low motivation or low energy. It is more common in women than in men.
Impact of Chronic Insomnia
Chronic insomnia is associated with an increased risk of a range of physical and mental health problems. Research suggests chronic insomnia can lead to increased risks of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and motor vehicle accidents. Research also shows that impaired sleep is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and a recent study found that people who have insomnia are 28% more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those without.
Chronic insomnia also has a negative impact on work and school performance, impairing concentration and increasing the risk of errors and accidents. Research has estimated that insomnia is associated with nearly 253 million days of lost work each year in the U.S. and more than $100 billion in annual costs due to indirect costs such as poorer workplace performance, increased health care utilization, and increased accident risk.