The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is recognizing the third annual Insomnia Awareness Day on Monday, March 14, as the “spring forward” shift to daylight saving time creates the potential for another lost hour of sleep, adding to the already enormous cost of untreated insomnia. A study published online in November 2015 in Sleep Medicine Reviews estimates that the total costs of untreated insomnia exceed $100 billion per year in the United States, with the majority spent on indirect costs such as poorer workplace performance, increased health care utilization, and increased accident risk.
“When we wake up after shifting our clocks forward, we feel the way those with insomnia may feel on a day-to-day basis—groggy and fatigued,” says Nathaniel Watson, MD, MSc, president of the AASM, in a release. “Fortunately, effective treatment options can significantly improve health and quality of life for those who suffer from chronic insomnia—decreasing their risk for serious health problems.”
As many as 30% to 35% of adults suffer from temporary insomnia, which can be caused by a sudden change in schedule, such as the shift to daylight saving time. Chronic insomnia, which affects as many as 10% of adults, involves ongoing difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep—or regularly waking up earlier than desired—despite an adequate opportunity for sleep. Chronic insomnia includes symptoms such as daytime fatigue, cognitive impairment, irritability and lack of energy.
If you think you may have insomnia, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it take you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, or do you wake up during the night and have trouble returning to sleep, or do you wake up at least 30 minutes earlier than desired?
- Do you have daytime symptoms such as fatigue, moodiness, sleepiness, or reduced energy?
- Do you give yourself enough time in bed to get at least seven hours of sleep each night?
- Do you go to bed in a safe, dark, and quiet environment that should allow you to sleep well?
- Does this sleep problem occur at least three times per week, and has it been present for at least three months?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, you may have chronic insomnia. Those suffering from chronic insomnia should get help from the sleep team at an AASM accredited sleep center. The primary treatment for chronic insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves a combination of behavioral modification and cognitive strategies, such as replacement of unrealistic fears about sleep with more positive expectations.