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Sleep Med. 2006 Mar;7(2):123-30. Epub 2006 Feb 3.

Epidemiology of insomnia: prevalence, self-help treatments, consultations, and determinants of help-seeking behaviors.

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  • 1Ecole de psychologie, Université Laval, and Centre de recherche du CHA-Hôpital du Saint-Sacrement, Québec City, Québec, Canada.



To estimate the prevalence of insomnia symptoms and syndrome in the general population, describe the types of self-help treatments and consultations initiated for insomnia, and examine help-seeking determinants.


A randomly selected sample of 2001 French-speaking adults from the province of Quebec (Canada) responded to a telephone survey about sleep, insomnia, and its treatments.


Of the total sample, 25.3% were dissatisfied with their sleep, 29.9% reported insomnia symptoms, and 9.5% met criteria for an insomnia syndrome. Thirteen percent of the respondents had consulted a healthcare provider specifically for insomnia in their lifetime, with general practitioners being the most frequently consulted. Daytime fatigue (48%), psychological distress (40%), and physical discomfort (22%) were the main determinants prompting individuals with insomnia to seek treatment. Of the total sample, 15% had used at least once herbal/dietary products to facilitate sleep and 11% had used prescribed sleep medications in the year preceding the survey. Other self-help strategies employed to facilitate sleep included reading, listening to music, and relaxation.


These findings confirm the high prevalence of insomnia in the general population. While few insomnia sufferers seek professional consultations, many individuals initiate self-help treatments, particularly when daytime impairments such as fatigue become more noticeable. Improved knowledge of the determinants of help-seeking behaviors could guide the development of effective public health prevention and intervention programs to promote healthy sleep.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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