If you have trouble sleeping, you’re not alone. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. But if you’re not getting help for your sleep problem, tossing and turning night after night, you are risking some very serious health problems.
Left untreated, insomnia increases the risk of developing depression, diabetes, hypertension and possibly even death in older adults, according to a review study. “In view of the high prevalence and substantial morbidities of insomnia, patients should routinely be asked about sleep problems by health-care providers,” write researchers Charles Morin from the Université Laval, Québec City, Canada and Ruth Benca from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Most people with insomnia are vulnerable to recurrent episodes of sleeplessness. Research shows that 70 percent experience insomnia a year later. Half still have insomnia up to three years later.
People with insomnia are more than five times as likely to experience anxiety and depression, are at more than double the risk of developing congestive heart failure and diabetes, and have an elevated risk of death. A study also shows that individuals with insomnia are seven times more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs over the next three and a half years compared with those without the condition.
Morin and Benca warn: “There is an urgent need for more public education about sleep and broader dissemination of evidence-based therapies for insomnia, and education and training to prepare health-practitioners to attend and treat insomnia complaints according to clinical guidelines.”