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21-07-2013 | Sleep medicine | Article

Early insomnia treatment warranted for Taiwanese


Free abstract

medwireNews: The prevalence of insomnia is rising in Taiwan and this together with its persistence, particularly in women, makes early treatment a must, say researchers.

“One important implication is the need to recognize insomnia as a disorder rather than a symptom and to begin treatment early instead of waiting for spontaneous resolution,” they report in Sleep Medicine.

Between 2002 and 2009, the prevalence rate of insomnia increased significantly from 2.47% to 4.17% among 970,769 individuals studied, although the incidence rate decreased nonsignificantly over the 8-year period.

According to the insurance claims assessed, the prevalence and incidence rates were both higher in women than men. In 2009, for example, 25,435 women and 15,011 men had insomnia, giving a prevalence of 5.35% versus 3.03% and an incidence of 1.56% versus 1.02%.

“The fact that the prevalence of insomnia continually increased while the new incidence of insomnia slightly decreased over the 8 years highlights the persistence of healthcare-seeking behavior for insomnia among Taiwanese,” say researchers Shih-Feng Weng (Chi Mei Medical Center, Tainan, Taiwan) and Ming-Ping Wu (Chi Mei Foundation Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan) and colleagues.

This could be because it can result or be exacerbated by other health conditions, they suggest, or because “patients and physicians often do not view insomnia as an important health concern,” which can reduce the effectiveness of treatment.

The prevalence of insomnia also increased with age in both men and women up until the age of 80 years, after which it declined, probably due to other more serious illnesses making it a relatively minor concern to report, the researchers suggest.

The man-to-woman prevalence showed an inverse U trend with age, in that the ratio of prevalence grew with age, reached a peak for those aged 50 to 59 years, which likely corresponds with the menopausal transition, and continually decreased thereafter.

Overall, women, older individuals, and those with middle socioeconomic status had the highest risk for insomnia. The odds ratios were 1.82 for women versus men, 23.25 for 50–64 years of age and 24.70 for at least 65 years of age versus younger than 20 years, and 1.19 for middle versus low socioeconomic status.

The researchers stress that “the rising prevalence rates and persistence of insomnia could impair the quality of life of a large proportion of the general population.”

They therefore conclude that “health programs aimed at increasing awareness of insomnia and receiving proper treatments at a younger age are warranted, and special attention should be paid to women.”

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Lucy Piper, Senior medwireNews Reporter