Insomnia Statistics

22 Aug


It is only fitting for me to put together a blog post on this as I’m now in my 3rd week of going to bed and not being able to fall asleep easily. It’s a total pain in the ass but at least I’m not alone. I have scoured the internet for survey data and stats on insomnia to put together in this fact sheet. I’m not sure what to take away from this other than serious sleep problems are nested into every day life for many people, often met with puzzlement to their doctors who don’t know how to help them.

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Statistics on Insomnia

Here’s a snapshot of insomnia related statistics. All this data comes from university and government sources. I have an included a link for each data source. I believe all this data is specific to surveying US residents.

  1. Roughly 50% of all cases of insomnia have no identifiable cause.
  2. 1 in 3 people have insomnia
  3. …but 80% never report it to their doctor
  4. Somewhere in the range of 40% to 60% of people with insomnia also show signs of depression.
  5. Between 10% to 30% of kids are affected by insomnia – specifically 1 or 2 types known as sleep-onset or limit-setting insomnia.
  6. Lifelong insomnia that starts in childhood and is unexplainable is present in about 1% of young adults. This is known as idiopathic insomnia.
  7. About 30% of adults show symptoms of insomnia, but chronic insomnia effects under 10% of adults.
  8. Secondary insomnia – in which sleep problems are the effect of a prior condition or cause – effects 80% of people who have insomnia.In other words, most peoples insomnia is caused by something else.

Statistics Sources:

A-D http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/insomnia-000096.htm
E-G: http://www.aasmnet.org/resources/factsheets/insomnia.pdf
H: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/inso/inso_whatis.html

Note: This data set is a bit short due to most insomnia statistics simply repeat the same findings over and over.


Photo by Florian Boyd.

Insomnia Jargon Cheat Sheet

The following definitions are helpful in light of understanding the statistics on insomnia.

  • Primary Insomnia – Cannot be attributed to common causes for sleeplessness such as a medical/psychiatric cause or drug/medicine related cause. It’s characterized with a history of problems going to sleep, staying asleep, or having nonrestorative sleep causing significant problems in ones day to day life.Secondary Insomnia – Sleeplessness that can be attributed to a source such as a medical problem or depression.
  • Idiopathic Insomnia – A rare form of chronic insomnia in which no cause or reason is understood for sleeplessness. Idiopathic insomnia starts at a young age and continues for ones entire life. Click here to learn more.
  • Sleep Onset Insomnia – When it takes more than 30 minutes to fall asleep. Anxiety is often associated with sleep onset insomnia. Also called Delayed Sleep Phase Insomnia. Also described in regards to children who are conditioned to sleep via a trigger such as being held, rocked, or having music or the TV on, who experience sleep problems if these conditions are not met.
  • Limit Setting Insomnia – Also called childhood insomnia, limit setting insomnia comes about from kids not having a solid bed time.

There are even more definitions than this, but these are the most commonly cited ones.

Recommended Resources

  • NPR Podcast On Sleep Problems – An interview with Gayle Green of Sleep Starved along with sleep experts Dr. Ronald Chervin and Todd Arnedt. A really interesting discussion from people who are in the trenches. From NPR’s Talk of the Nation.
  • The Sleep in America Poll – Nearly 50 pages of extensive survey results from the National Sleep Foundation’s 2008 sleep survey. Definitely some interesting data in here.

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