The Alliance for Sleep announced results from its survey, Wake Up America: The Night & Day Impact of Insomnia, conducted online by The Harris Poll. This US survey was created under the direction of sleep experts, supported by Idorsia Pharmaceuticals US, to bring to life the complexities of insomnia and highlight changes needed to improve the ability of patients and healthcare providers to address this prevalent sleep/wake disorder.

The Wake Up America survey reveals that trouble sleeping and insomnia have a massive impact on a variety of aspects across people’s lives—during both the day and night. More than half of people with trouble sleeping (PWTS) feel frustrated and 70% report that they are desperate to find a solution that helps them get quality sleep and fully function the next day. 

Sleep is overwhelmingly seen as the third pillar of health, alongside diet and exercise (98% of primary care physicians (PCPs) and 91% of PWTS). Yet despite acknowledging the importance of sleep, just 66% of PCPs report frequently asking about sleep during routine visits and only 27% of people with trouble sleeping report that their doctors ask about their sleep during every visit. Additionally, more than half (57%) of PWTS who have not been diagnosed with insomnia have not spoken about their trouble sleeping with their doctor.

“Despite seeing first-hand the toll of insomnia with our patients, these findings were still startling in that they highlight the extent of the problem on all aspects of people’s lives. But what is perhaps most shocking is the disconnect between the lengths people are willing to go to fix their sleep issues and the lack of conversation happening in doctors’ offices,” says Ruth Benca, MD, PhD, co-chair of The Alliance for Sleep, in a release. “We hope these survey results will spark a true wake up call for Americans, both patients and healthcare providers, demonstrating things need to change if we are to shore up sleep as the third pillar of health.”

The survey documents knowledge gaps and the presence of stigma when it comes to sleep and treating sleep issues. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of PWTS believe they are very or somewhat knowledgeable about sleep and insomnia.

But approximately two-thirds of PWTS believe common sleep myths including: “Your body can get used to functioning on less sleep” and “Naps make up for loss of sleep during the night” (63% and 61% falsely believe or are not sure about each, respectively). Two-thirds (66%) of those who take or have taken prescription sleep medication believe there is a stigma associated with prescription sleep medication.

“Asking people and healthcare providers to open up about a basic human need—sleep—revealed an overwhelming need for education. Based on these findings, we are expanding and intensifying our commitment to education, supporting the prioritization of sleep, and the recognition of insomnia as a medical condition that, when left unmanaged, can have devastating effects on a person’s overall health and wellbeing,” says Patricia Torr, president and general manager of Idorsia US, in a release.

Additional findings from the Wake Up America survey further reinforce the need for education, increased awareness and change in key areas:

  • Negative daytime effects across work and relationships:
    • 29% report struggles at work
    • 27% report financial struggles
    • 19% report end of a relationship with friends/family
    • 13% report end of a romantic relationship
    • 10% report ever experiencing job loss
  • Impact on work productivity:
    • Employed PWTS estimate they lose eight hours of work a week, on average
    • That turns into 416 hours lost each year per employee in the U.S.
    • In total, an estimated 6.5 billion hours total of lost work across the U.S. due trouble sleeping.

The Alliance for Sleep is developing a roadmap to support patients and healthcare providers in addressing insomnia.