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J Affect Disord. 2012 May;138(3):192-212. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.05.014. Epub 2011 Jun 8.

Sleep America: managing the crisis of adult chronic insomnia and associated conditions.

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Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York 11210, USA.



Chronic insomnia, a public health crisis affecting 10-15% of the U.S. population and costing billions of dollars annually, typically presents with one or more comorbid psychiatric or organic conditions. Historical classification of chronic insomnia as "secondary" to a presenting comorbid condition has resulted in under-recognition and under-treatment of both the insomnia and comorbid condition(s). Though critical in any model of comorbid disease management, chronic insomnia receives little, if any, public policy attention.


We conducted a systematic review of recent empirical studies, review papers, books, government documents, press releases, advertisements, and articles pertaining to the classification, epidemiology, treatment, and physiology of sleep, insomnia, and comorbid conditions. Data were located primarily through MEDLINE, PsycINFO, SCOPUS, and PUBMED databases.


Our goal was to provide an overview of the systems for classifying insomnia and available epidemiological data, and to review theoretical models regarding the etiology and maintaining factors of chronic insomnia along with research on the complex, bidirectional associations between chronic insomnia and various affective (and other) conditions.


After thorough review of the literature, we propose several public policy measures as an initial step in managing chronic insomnia in the United States. These include introducing a nation-wide multi-modal educational and awareness campaign titled "Sleep America;" increasing the availability and demand for behavioral sleep medicine - the initially preferred treatment approach; and increasing the use of monitoring and enforcement activities by regulatory authorities to curtail false and misleading claims by sponsors of supplements or treatments for insomnia. Through the adoption of such measures, we hope to galvanize a national interest in healthy sleep and the evidence-based treatment of chronic insomnia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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