New Survey Reveals Barriers Healthcare Professionals Face in Diagnosing and Treating Insomnia

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 General News
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 A new survey of healthcare professionals revealed that six in ten do not feel that they have enough time to have a discussion with their patients about insomnia during regular office visits. Unfortunately, for the approximately 30 million Americans who suffer from chronic insomnia, this could be a potential barrier to diagnosis and treatment and lead to other health, safety and productivity problems.

These results are part of an educational initiative called Sleeping Smart recently launched by the National Sleep Foundation, together with sanofi-aventis U.S. The campaign educates sufferers about the importance of a good night's sleep, proper sleep habits, helps them understand the consequences of insomnia, and the safe and appropriate use of prescription sleep medications. The campaign also motivates sleep-sufferers to talk to a healthcare professional to determine if treatment is appropriate.

"It's important for both healthcare professionals and patients to discuss sleep issues during a routine exam including the consequences of insomnia such as increased risk of automotive crashes, decreased work performance, depression or mood changes," said Helene A. Emsellem, MD, FAASM, medical director of The Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Maryland and a volunteer with the National Sleep Foundation. "While we are encouraged by some of the survey results, it's clear that much more needs to be done to raise awareness of insomnia as a serious medical condition. On our campaign Web site,, people can download a questionnaire that can help them facilitate a conversation about their sleep issues, which may help with the time barrier many healthcare professionals report they are facing."

Survey Highlights

Tips for Sleeping Smart

As with all medications, it is important to take sleep aids only as directed by a healthcare professional. This means following his or her instructions about how to take, when to take and how long to take sleep medicine. Sleep aids should not be taken with alcohol, before driving or operating machinery, or before taking a bath or shower, among other things. Be sure you're able to devote 7 to 8 hours to sleep before being active again.

Are you sleeping smart? For more information visit

About Insomnia

Insomnia can be a serious medical condition characterized by difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep (waking up often during the night and/or having trouble going back to sleep), waking up too early in the morning and feeling tired upon waking. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), approximately 30 million Americans are affected by chronic insomnia. Higher prevalence rates for insomnia are found in clinical practices, women, especially postmenopausal women, and the elderly.

Patients with chronic insomnia report higher rates of absenteeism and demonstrate poor work efficiency compared to normal sleepers. Insomnia can lead to stress and reduced productivity, and thus may be costly to the workplace.

Survey Methodology

The National Online Healthcare Professional Insomnia Poll of 301 healthcare professionals was conducted for the National Sleep Foundation by WB&A Market Research. Online interviews were conducted using a survey panel between October 9 and October 15, 2008. In order to qualify for this study, respondents had to hold the title of either Primary Care Physician, Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant. In survey research, the entire population is typically not interviewed, but rather a sample of that population is polled. Therefore, the data are subject to sampling error. The maximum sampling error of the data for the total sample of 301 interviews is plus or minus 5.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

About NSF

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public health and safety by achieving greater understanding of sleep and sleep disorders. NSF furthers its mission through sleep-related education, research and advocacy initiatives. NSF's membership includes researchers and clinicians focused on sleep medicine as well as other professionals in the health, medical and science fields, individuals, patients and more than 800 sleep clinics and healthcare facilities throughout North America that join the Foundation's Sleep Care Center program. For more information, visit,

-- Eighty-two percent of healthcare professionals believe that it is the responsibility of both the patient and the healthcare professional to initiate the conversation about insomnia during an office visit.

SOURCE The National Sleep Foundation

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