Chronic insomnia at a glance
Today, there are no good solutions on the global market available to insomnia patients.
It is estimated that people with insomnia have 10 times higher costs attached to them related to the use of health care services, products, as well as functional impairments.
Drugs are readily available and effective, but cause negative side-effects, addiction and decrease rapidly in efficacy. Psychological treatment is limited in availability, complex, time-demanding and expensive. Other tech solutions overwhelm users with data they are not qualified to analyze accurately themselves.
The European Sleep Research Society and American College of Physicians are calling out for innovative approaches and techniques to supplement existing alternatives in the treatment of insomnia patients.
A more capable future society through better sleep.
Insomnia is a diagnosis describing those who have difficulties initiating sleep, are waking up at night and earlier than desired, causing impaired daytime functioning. In Norway more than half of all patients waiting for a doctor’s appointment have insomnia. In order to receive a diagnosis of chronic insomnia, there must be a disturbance of nocturnal sleep (criterion A) and related daytime impairment (criterion B). The sleep disorder must occur at least 3 nights a week for a period of 3 months to be clinically diagnosed.
Individuals with insomnia have an increased risk of mortality; depression; suicidal thoughts and attempts; cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders; as well as lower pain threshold compared to healthy sleepers. Insomnia increases the risk of short and long-term absence from work and sleep-related accidents. Reduced cognitive performance, fatigue and mood disturbances are some of the most common consequences.
In 2002, about 6% of adults in the industrialized countries suffered from chronic insomnia as a disorder. In 2012, that number had increased to 10%. Insomnia and insomnia-like symptoms are estimated to affect 20-30% of the European population on average. The highest reported prevalence, in Europe, is 31,2% in Poland. In Norway, the number of reported cases of sleep deprivation increased from 11,9% to 15,5% between 2000 and 2010. Prevalence in other Nordic countries varies between 11% and 16%. In addition, insomnia is regarded to be heavily underdiagnosed, so the real numbers are likely even higher.
Insomnia is a massive burden to our society in both economic and social terms. It is hard to estimate its total cost, as insomnia has many indirect consequences for which there is no established way to quantify. Nevertheless, it has been estimated that insomnia costs between 1,5 – 3% of the GDP of Western countries annually due to loss in economic output. The same study estimated that if individuals gained one extra hourof sleep per night, this could potentially add an annual value of:
● €442,7 billion to Europe
● €202,9 billion to the US
● €2 668,6 billion to Asia
● €57,4 billion to Germany and the UK.
This could, for instance, be obtained with 20 minutes faster sleep onset and 40 minutes longer sleep during night. An area where costs are well-documented is car accidents. Recently, it was estimated that the cost of car accidents caused by sleepy driving, for which insomnia is a likely major cause, cost up to €302,6 billion in Europe and up to €136,5 billion in the US. Worldwide, car accidents alone cause approximately 1,3 million deaths annually, up to 50 million injuries and a cost of up to €5,791 billion due to disability-insurance. In other domains, the Sleep Review magazine claims patients with insomnia experience more costly medical and psychiatric conditions, consume more healthcare services, experience reduced workplace productivity, and are at greater risk for costly accidents than their non-insomnia peers.
In 2009, researchers found that every person with insomnia costs society at least €4,485 annually. The total annual costs (direct use of health care services/products and economic loss) were found to be:
● €377 for healthy sleepers,
● €1,281 for people with insomnia symptoms, and
● €4,485 for people with chronic insomnia.
That is an annual additional societal cost of €304,1 billion in Europe alone caused by people not sleeping well. The economic burden of untreated insomnia is estimated to be even higher. After all sleeping is best medication for insomnia.