Tips for patients and healthcare professionals to help close the 'insomnia conversation gap'

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(BPT) - For approximately 25 million American adults, insomnia is an unfortunate and ever-present reality, impacting a person’s ability to sleep and creating debilitating repercussions within their daily life.1 While often thought of as only a nighttime problem, insomnia also impacts functioning during the day, affecting concentration, mood, energy levels, relationships, work-life balance — even leading to more serious health consequences such as depression, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, substance abuse and dementia.2-6

Despite these impacts, roadblocks preventing people from receiving the insomnia care they deserve include a widespread dissatisfaction with treatment options and a belief that insomnia is not a real disorder worthy of medical attention, but rather a personal problem for people to deal with on their own. The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that healthcare professionals (HCPs) do not often ask patients about how their lack of sleep is affecting their day, thus leaving out a critical part of the conversation.7

To start improving the realities for people with insomnia and addressing the unmet need, The Alliance for Sleep, a newly formed committee of HCPs and sleep experts, recently conducted the Wake Up America: The Night & Day Impact of Insomnia Survey — with the goal of understanding how patients and healthcare providers view insomnia and currently available treatments. The survey of 1,001 adults with trouble sleeping, 300 primary care physicians and 152 psychiatrists explored the complexities of insomnia, highlighting several key areas where change is needed.7

The survey found that 70% of people with trouble sleeping (PWTS) are desperate to find a solution that helps them get quality sleep — although many (57%) are not discussing their sleep troubles with their providers.7 You may be wondering, how is this possible? Simply put, they aren’t being asked about it. In fact, when asked about whether their doctor asks explicitly about their sleep health, only 27% of PWTS reported always having these conversations during routine visits.7 This resulting ‘insomnia conversation gap’ makes it difficult for patients to feel comfortable opening up to their providers as it relates to their sleep, leaving many to believe prematurely that there are limited opportunities to receive care.

“The results from the Wake Up America survey pull back the proverbial curtain on a longstanding disconnect that exists in insomnia care,” said Dr. Ruth Benca, co-chair of The Alliance for Sleep. “Equipped with these insights, it’s my hope that we can help initiate critical patient and HCP conversations in order to dispel misconceptions and identify effective and appropriate treatment options.”

To create an atmosphere where patients and HCPs can have more productive conversations, The Alliance for Sleep offers the following advice for patients:

  • Be more open and honest with their HCPs about what they are experiencing in relation to their sleep.
  • Start the conversation with their HCP around sleep, discussing the quality and quantity of sleep.
  • Share experiences not only from the nighttime, but also daytime impacts from trouble sleeping, including:
    • Decreased productivity at work
    • Difficulty focusing
    • Cancelling social plans
    • Trouble completing daily chores or tasks
    • Day-to-day lower energy and fatigue
  • Lean on resources to help facilitate a productive dialogue. Jumpstart the conversation with the help of a discussion guide.

The Alliance for Sleep also lays out suggestions to HCPs, to help initiate productive conversations with patients:

  • Proactively ask about patients’ sleep, even if they do not mention experiencing trouble sleeping
  • Expand the conversation around sleep to also ask about daytime functioning related to sleep
  • Revisit and discuss patients’ insomnia treatment plans

If you are experiencing trouble sleeping, talk to your healthcare professional, and visit www.WakeUpAmericaSurvey.com to learn more about the survey’s findings.

Sponsored by Idorsia U.S.

References

1 Bhaskar S, Hemavathy D, Prasad S. Prevalence of chronic insomnia in adult patients and its correlation with medical comorbidities. J Family Med Prim Care. 2016;5(4):780-784. doi:10.4103/2249-4863.201153.

2 Roth T. Insomnia: Definition, prevalence, etiology, and consequences. J. Clin. Sleep Med. 2007;15((Suppl. S5)):S7–S10. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.26929.

3 Olfson M, Wall M, Liu SM, Morin CM, Blanco C. Insomnia and Impaired Quality of Life in the United States. J Clin Psychiatry. 2018 Sep 11;79(5):17m12020. doi: 10.4088/JCP.17m12020.

4 Doghramji K. The epidemiology and diagnosis of insomnia. Am J Manag Care. 2006 May;12(8 Suppl): S214-20. PMID: 16686591.

5 de Almondes KM, Costa MV, Malloy-Diniz LF, Diniz BS. Insomnia and risk of dementia in older adults: Systematic review and meta-analysis. J Psychiatr Res. 2016 Jun;77:109-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2016.02.021. Epub 2016 Mar 8. PMID: 27017287.

6 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association Publishing; 2022.

7 Idorsia Data on File