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Insomnia sufferers less likely to seek healthcare, more likely to use it

OK, bear with us on this one. It may sound predictable, but a recent study found that those who suffer from a lack of sleep or a related problem are more likely to have had a healthcare visit within the past year (85% vs 59%).

When compared to those without any sleep complaints, the numbers stacked up as follows (the first number is for participants with sleep problems and the second number is for participants without):

Hospitalized in the past year: 16% vs 8%

One or more mental health visits in the past year: 20% vs 5%

Missed six or more days of work in the past year: 14% vs 7%

Here's where it gets really interesting, though - of those who had trouble sleeping, only a quarter actually sought medical advice. In other words, most insomniacs aren't seeking medical advice, even though they apparently need more of it.

Shockingly, almost everyone in the research study (99%) reported at least one sleep problem. Over half reported feeling tired after waking, over half reported not getting enough sleep and over a third reported having trouble falling asleep. 1% of all the participants were diagnosed as insomniacs. 37% were thought to have insomnia even though they had never been diagnosed.

So why aren't these people seeking medical advice, when they obviously need it? Health insurance (or a lack thereof) may be one explanation; the study found that the 1% of participants who had been clinically diagnosed with insomnia were more likely to have health insurance compared to those who were only thought to have insomnia.

This is where things need to change. Insomnia needs to be taken more seriously. Medical advice needs to be more readily available and diagnosis rates need to improve. Perhaps we can start by making healthcare more accessible and ensuring that doctors routinely screen for sleep complaints in patients who suffer from conditions associated with them (for example cancer, heart disease, depression and diabetes).

Source: Medscape Today

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Last updated: August 4, 2011

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

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