An analysis of sleep data from 8,100 individuals, specifically looking at sleep patterns 30 days before and after Nov 5—the day most of the US turned its clocks back for Daylight Savings—showed that the time change appeared to push about 1 in 8 people who already had trouble sleeping into moderate insomnia.

Specifically, the data showed:

  • A 13% increase in how many people have moderate clinical insomnia as measured by a clinical insomnia measurement.
  • A 22% reduction in the number of people with subthreshold insomnia, suggesting a shift from subthreshold to moderate insomnia.

25 million Americans suffer from chronic insomnia, defined as sleep problems three-plus nights a week for three-plus months,” says George Wang, co-founder and CEO of Stellar Sleep, which offers a digital solution for chronic insomnia management and commissioned the study. “Moderate insomnia is a stop on the road to chronic insomnia. Many sleep experts have advocated the elimination of Daylight Savings Time, and this data shows why. The fall time change has a significant impact on sleep duration and quality for many people.”

People with insomnia aren’t typically helped by surface-level sleep hygiene approaches such as eliminating caffeine or taking melatonin. That’s because insomnia is rooted in deeper psychological issues, according to a release from Stellar Sleep. The approach that’s proven most effective for addressing chronic insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I. The problem is that there are only 700 people certified in CBT-I in the entire world, making access to care a big problem. Patients may need to wait months or even years for an opening with a sleep therapist or sleep clinic.

Wang started Steller Sleep after experiencing chronic insomnia himself. When common sleep hygiene approaches didn’t help, and he found months-long waitlists for a sleep therapist, he became certified in CBT-I and was able to address his own insomnia. 

He then partnered with Stellar Sleep’s co-founder to build an app incorporating the CBT-I methodology to help others.

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