Are you or a loved one living with a sleep disorder? The following facts and statistics explore the widespread prevalence of these conditions.
Many people experience temporary sleep-related difficulties due to stress or unfortunate life circumstances. However, if you experience sleep problems regularly, an undiagnosed sleep disorder could be to blame.
For healthy adults, the recommended amount of sleep is 7 hours per night. Conversely, if you suffer from a sleep disorder, attaining the recommended amount of sleep is challenging at best. In general, sleep disorders are characterized as chronic sleep conditions that impact your quality of life or ability to function. Not only is getting less than 7 hours of sleep per day associated with increased accident risk, but also diabetes, heart disease and decreased immunity. Sleep disorder statistics help address prevalence, or how widespread these conditions are in a given population, as well as the most commonly diagnosed sleep disorders.
Prevalence of Sleep Disorders
The prevalence of sleep disorders varies widely depending on individual studies and disorders. However, the prevalence of sleep disorders in the general population ranges from 20–41.7%. The prevalence of sleep disorders in the United States follows a similar pattern, with 50–70 million U.S. adults impacted by lack of sleep.
Sleep Deprivation Statistics
Sleep deprivation can be defined as having a shorter sleep duration than recommended for one’s age group. Sleep deprivation statistics suggest that around 35% of U.S. adults report sleeping less than 7 hours in a typical 24-hour period.
Sleep deprivation data shows that men and women are equally affected. A disproportionate amount of African-Americans (45.8%), American Indian/Alaska Natives (40.4%) and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders (46.3%) experience sleep deprivation, relative to white (33.4%), Asian (37.5%) or Hispanic (34.5%) populations.
Sleep deprivation statistics in college students aged 18–24 suggest that 32.2% of young adults suffer from sleep deprivation. Teenage sleep deprivation statistics reveal that close to 70% of high school students sleep less than the recommended 8–10 hours of sleep per night. While these statistics are alarming, first understanding the criteria for healthy sleep is crucial.
Sleep Needs by Age
The National Sleep Foundation (made up of 18 different research groups) developed sleep recommendations based on over 300 research publications. Sleep needs by age vary widely, with newborns needing the most sleep, followed by infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age children, teenagers, young adults, adults and older adults.
- Children: Newborns (0–3 months) need the most sleep, ranging from 14–17 hours per day. Infants (4–11 months) need 12–15 hours per day, toddlers (1–2 years) need 11–14 hours per night, and preschoolers (3-5 years) need 10-13 hours per night, while school-age children (6–13 years) need 9–11 hours per night.
- Teenagers: Teenagers aged 14–17 are recommended to sleep between 8–10 hours per night.
- Adults: Adults aged 18–64 are now recommended to sleep at least 7 hours and no more than 9 hours per night, while adults older than 65 should sleep between 7–8 hours.
Sleep Disorders by the Numbers
The most commonly diagnosed sleep disorders include insomnia and sleep apnea, which both substantially impact sleep quality. The following list of sleep disorders provides more in-depth information about each of these conditions. Please note that these descriptions are only meant to serve as a guideline and that an official diagnosis for any sleep disorder must be made by a medical professional.
- Insomnia: Insomnia is defined as having difficulty falling or staying asleep. People who lie awake for long periods in the middle of the night, awake too early or can only sleep for short periods may live with this condition, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These symptoms commonly lead to anxiety, depression and irritability. Insomnia statistics reveal how common the disorder is in the United States. Short-term insomnia occurs in nearly 30% of U.S. adults, and chronic insomnia occurs in 10% of U.S. adults.
- Sleep-Wake Disorders: Otherwise known as circadian rhythm sleep disorders, this set of conditions involves alterations in a person’s normal 24-hour biological clock. Throughout human history, cycles of day-versus-night helped people develop complex biological cycles regulated by hormones and temperature. A person may be suffering from a sleep-wake disorder if they have problems with either sleep initiation, frequent night awakenings, early awakenings or poor sleep quality. Though the prevalence of these conditions is currently unknown, sleep-wake disorders statistics confirm the possibility of a genetic component and differences between age groups.
- Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder whereby the brain has difficulty regulating sleep-wake cycles. People who randomly fall asleep at inappropriate times (e.g., while driving, having a conversation or eating) likely have narcolepsy. In the United States, the narcolepsy prevalence is estimated to be between 135,000–200,000 people.
- Hypersomnia: According to the NIH, hypersomnia involves excessive sleepiness whether prolonged at night or during the day. There is usually no relief despite long periods of sleep. Some hypersomnia facts include that most cases of this disease are recognized in early adulthood and certain medical conditions, like epilepsy and obesity, can contribute to this disorder. Hypersomnia statistics reveal that this condition affects about 4% of the general population and disproportionately impacts men due to excess tiredness from sleep apnea.
- Restless Legs Syndrome: The NIH defines restless legs syndrome as uncomfortable or unpleasant sensations in the legs. Restless leg syndrome statistics estimate that up to 10% of U.S. adults suffer from this condition. Factors and conditions that tend to overlap with restless leg syndrome include iron deficiency, pregnancy, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine use, or antidepressant use, among others.
- REM Sleep Behavior Disorder: REM stands for rapid-eye-movement, which is a critical component of healthy sleep. In contrast, REM sleep behavior disorder is defined as a condition that causes a person to act out dreams in real time with physical movement. REM sleep behavior disorder statistics suggest that it is one of the less common sleep disorders. The condition impacts middle-aged men and women equally. To answer how common REM sleep behavior disorder is in the general population, the same study found that only about 1% of people suffer from this condition.
- Sleep Apnea: The NIH classifies sleep apnea as a condition whereby breathing during sleep is briefly stopped due to airway obstruction. Sleep apnea statistics suggest that it is one of the most common sleep disorders after insomnia. Sleep apnea facts indicate that men may experience sleep apnea differently than women and children. While sleep apnea prevalence varies significantly, the more severe type of sleep apnea (obstructive sleep apnea) ranges from 2–4% of the general population. Less severe types of sleep apnea are thought to affect 9–24% of the general population.
Diagnosing Sleep Disorders
To diagnose sleep disorders, medical professionals often use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 contains specific criteria for diagnosing mental health disorders, including common symptoms and descriptions of each disorder.
If you think you may suffer from a sleep disorder, it is likely that a medical professional will first take a detailed medical history. Afterward, you may need to keep track of your sleep patterns in a sleep diary and participate in a sleep study conducted in a laboratory. To officially confirm DSM-5 sleep disorders, several tests must be performed. These include testing your blood, degree of tiredness, ability to stay awake, and degree of movement during sleep, for example.
Sleep Disorders and Co-Occurring Conditions
There are many co-occurring conditions with sleep disorders. Common conditions include anxiety, high stress levels or substance abuse. Additionally, chronic sleep deprivation is associated with increased levels of obesity and diabetes.
Sleep disorders may also co-occur with:
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Spinal cord injury
- Alzheimer’s disease
Percent of Adults Using Sleep Aids
To improve sleep quality, many people use prescription sleep aids. Currently, as many as 1 out of 6 adults with diagnosed sleep disorders have used prescription sleep aids versus 1 out of 8 adults with general sleep problems. In studies conducted between 2005–2010, 4% of adults at least 20 years of age reported using prescription sleep aids within the past 30 days.
Sleep Disorders and Motor Vehicle Accidents
One of the more dangerous consequences of sleep disorders or chronic sleep deprivation involves the increased risk of motor vehicle accidents. For example, in the United Kingdom, 30% of highway accidents were attributed to sleep disorders or related conditions. Similar results were seen in the United States and Australia.
Cost of Sleep Disorders
From a financial perspective, the economic cost of sleep disorders is staggering. In a case study conducted in Australia in 2004, the overall cost of sleep disorders was determined to be 7.4 billion dollars for a population of 20.1 million people. This amounts to 0.8% of Australia’s gross domestic product for that year. Therefore, there is a pressing need to better understand sleep disorders and effective treatments to address them.
Sleep Disorders Treatment
Sleep disorder treatments differ depending on the particular condition. For instance, insomnia and other sleep disorders can be managed with the use of conventional medications and cognitive behavioral therapy. For these and other sleep disorders, medical professionals may recommend avoiding caffeine and nicotine, exercising consistently, practicing meditation or yoga and undergoing acupuncture treatments.
If you or a loved one are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction and a co-occurring sleep disorder, The Recovery Village can help. You can receive comprehensive treatment for these co-occurring disorders from one of our facilities located throughout the country. To learn more about treatment programs, call The Recovery Village to speak with a representative today.
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