How Common Is Insomnia?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2020

Insomnia means a person has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. It is one of the most common sleep disorders. If it lasts for less than 3 months, it is called short-term, or acute, insomnia. Chronic insomnia occurs at least 3 times a week for 3 months or longer.1,2

Almost everyone experiences a sleepless night at some time in their lives. In fact, over 80 million people in the United States experience insomnia each year. This type of insomnia often occurs during times of stress and tends to get better when the stress goes away.3,4

Long-term, or chronic, insomnia is less common. It is found in between 5 to 15 of every 100 people.2,5

How common is insomnia?

Insomnia generates more than 5 million office visits each year in the U.S.2

Women are more likely to experience both short- and long-term insomnia than men. Long-term insomnia occurs most often in:1,2,6

  • Women, especially during menopause
  • Older adults
  • Those with mental illness, and long-term health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune disorders, or brain injury

In fact, up to 50 percent of older adults had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. This is especially true among the elderly who have a physical disability, depression, breathing trouble, or those who felt like they were poor health.6

Rates of insomnia increase in people who are unemployed, divorced, widowed, separated, or poor.2

Insomnia and other health problems

People with a family history of insomnia or who have had short-term insomnia in the past are more likely to develop chronic insomnia. Certain health conditions seem to increase the chances of developing chronic insomnia and include:2,6

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Heart, kidney, and lung disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Menopause
  • Chronic pain such as that caused by arthritis
  • Neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
  • Other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome

What are the costs of insomnia?

Insomnia can impact a person’s quality of life and the ability to function. Fatigue, daytime sleepiness, trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, poor mood, and poor performance at school or work are all common. The longer insomnia goes on, the worse these problems can get.2

People with insomnia miss more work, are less productive while at work, and have more accidents at work and while driving.7

Health care costs for people with insomnia average $2,000 more per year than those without it. These costs come from more emergency room and doctor office visits, and more prescription drugs.7

Overall, insomnia costs the U.S. economy between $75 and $100 billion each year.7

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