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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2012 Oct;36(5):462-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2012.00845.x. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

The burden of insomnia on individual function and healthcare consumption in Australia.

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Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



To determine the extent to which insomnia poses an independent burden on individual function and healthcare use in Australia.


Cross-sectional data from 8,841 respondents and representative of the Australian population aged 16 to 85 in the 2007 National Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey were analysed. Insomnia was defined as 'sleeping only in short bursts and being awake most of the night' during the past week. This measure was validated against common epidemiological indicators of insomnia. Associations between insomnia, disability and healthcare consumption were explored using multivariate logistic regression.


Insomnia was reported by 5.6% of adults and was associated with older age, female gender, pain and psychological distress. Controlling for these and other a priori confounders, insomnia was associated with greater odds of (Adjusted Odds Ratio; 95% CI): disability days (1.62; 1.20-2.18), difficulties in daily activities (1.60; 1.10-2.31), life dissatisfaction (2.34; 1.11-4.93), use of sleep medication (1.78; 1.12-2.82) and a higher number of visits to general practitioners (1.57; 1.06-2.33). Insomnia was not significantly associated with the use of medications for mental health (1.17; 0.82-1.67), hospital admissions (1.31; 0.82-1.67), the use of complementary and alternative medicine (1.10; 0.73-1.67) or unmet need for healthcare (1.22; 0.84-1.77).


One in twenty adult Australians experience a level of insomnia that is independently associated with impairments in functioning and increased use of healthcare.


Increasing public and clinician awareness of the impact of insomnia, and promotion of available insomnia treatments may be warranted.

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