Approximately 28% of Americans say insomnia interferes with their daily lives, and approximately 64% use sleep aids to help them fall or stay asleep.
“Chronic insomnia is a dangerous public health issue,” Jennifer Martin, a licensed clinical psychologist and president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), said.
“If untreated, chronic insomnia can lead to a variety of long-term health issues, including depression, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and more, and can impact nearly every aspect of your life,” Martin said in an AASM news release.
On June 21, the “shortest night of the year,” AASM unveiled a new survey about insomnia. It included 2,010 adults from across the country.
Nearly two-thirds of those who use sleep aids use prescription medications, 27% use melatonin, and 20% use marijuana or CBD (cannabidiol). About 37% of people said that they had used sleep aids more often during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AASM says that people who think they have chronic insomnia should talk to their doctor to figure out the best way to treat it.
Despite the fact that melatonin can help, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that it not be used to treat adults with chronic insomnia.
According to the group, melatonin and sleep aids are not a “one-size-fits-all” treatment. People have difficulty sleeping for a variety of reasons.
“Developing healthy sleep hygiene habits can help someone with a mild or short-term case of insomnia,” said Michael Grandner, a licensed clinical psychologist and president of the Society for Behavioral Sleep Medicine.
Grandner says that sleep specialists can accurately figure out what’s causing long-term sleep problems and come up with a treatment plan for each patient.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the first-line treatment for chronic insomnia (CBT).
CBT combines behavioral strategies like keeping a consistent sleep schedule and getting out of bed when you can’t sleep with cognitive strategies like replacing fears about sleeplessness with more helpful expectations. CBT-based recommendations are tailored to each patient’s specific needs and symptoms.
According to Martin, “Cognitive behavioral therapy can help patients by providing customized strategies for individuals of all ages who are suffering from insomnia.” It can produce meaningful improvements while remaining cost-effective.