Insomnia in Adults: Etiology and Management

Kathleen Reeve; Barbara Bailes


Journal for Nurse Practitioners. 2010;6(1):53-60. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Insomnia is a significant problem in adults that frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated. Untreated insomnia is often associated with undiagnosed medical or psychiatric disorders that increase morbidity and mortality. Sleep patterns change with aging, and the presence of comorbid conditions leads to a higher prevalence of sleep disorders in older adults. Practitioners should inquire about sleep disorders with every patient encounter to increase diagnosis and treatment. Effective treatment of insomnia is available with nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic treatment modes.


Sleep disturbance is a common complaint. Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from chronic insomnia; an additional 20 million experience episodic insomnia. These disorders cost an estimated 16 billion dollars in direct medical costs annually. Even greater are the indirect costs of productivity and lost work days. Many individuals experiencing problems falling asleep or staying asleep use prescription or over-the-counter sleep medications. Sleep disorders affect all age groups, occur more frequently in women than in men, and are especially problematic in the elderly.[1–4]


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