Italy, 12 Million People Suffer from Insomnia

Health - June 5, 2024

On the occasion of World Sleep Day which is celebrated on March 15, the Italian Society of Neurology (SIN) and the Italian Association of Sleep Medicine (AIMS) take stock of sleep disorders which in Italy alone affect as many as 12 million people

Insomnia is a widespread problem that afflicts millions of people in Italy and, on the occasion of World Sleep Day, celebrated on 15 March each year, the Italian Society of Neurology (SIN) and the Italian Association of Sleep Medicine ( AIMS) take stock of the situation of sleep disorders in the country, revealing alarming data. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 12 million individuals are affected by sleep disorders in Italy, a significant number that highlights the seriousness of this problem.

Statistics indicate that approximately one in 4 adults in Italy suffers from chronic or transient insomnia, with a higher prevalence in females, which constitutes approximately 60% of cases. Furthermore, 20% of cases concern children and minors, suggesting that sleep disorders do not spare any age group. Sleep is fundamental for life itself, being essential for the correct functioning of the brain and for the neuronal, biochemical and metabolic changes that occur during night rest.

Prof. Alessandro Padovani, President of the Italian Society of Neurology, underlines the importance of promptly recognizing and treating sleep disorders, since fragmented and disturbed sleep can favor the deposition of abnormal proteins in the brain, associated with neurodegenerative conditions, inflammation and arteriosclerosis. Sleep disorders not only compromise the quality and duration of night’s rest, but can also lead to dangerous daytime consequences, such as mood, cognitive, attention disorders and drowsiness.

The professor. Francesco Fanfulla, President of AIMS, comments on the main message of the World Sleep Society, “Sleep Equity for Global Health”, highlighting the inequalities in sleep health among different populations around the world. The causes of these disparities are multiple and include environmental, social, community and individual factors. It is essential to promote greater awareness of the importance of sleep for global health and work to reduce inequalities in access to care and treatments for sleep disorders.

The AIMS annually organizes a unique event, the Sleep Marathon, during which Italian sleep medicine experts take turns in public relations to present a complete overview of sleep disorders and related treatments. This event takes place on the Friday before the spring equinox and is an opportunity to promote the culture of sleep and raise public awareness of the importance of dealing with sleep disorders appropriately.

World Sleep Day was established in 2008 to raise awareness of sleep disorders and their impacts on society. Last year, this initiative involved around 80 countries around the world and hundreds of local initiatives, becoming a trending topic on major social media. This demonstrates the growing importance that sleep health is assuming on the global public health agenda and the need to address this challenge with concrete actions and widespread awareness. The problem of insomnia and sleep disorders should not be underestimated, as it has significant impacts on individual health and on society as a whole. Sleep disorders not only affect the physical and mental well-being of those affected, but can also cause social and economic problems.

The consequences of disturbed sleep can be devastating. People who suffer from insomnia often face difficulty concentrating during the day, may be more irritable, anxious or depressed, and may have memory and learning problems. These symptoms not only compromise the individual’s quality of life, but can also negatively affect their personal and professional relationships. Sleep disorders are associated with an increased risk of developing serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. These complications can have long-term health consequences and increase the financial burden on national healthcare systems.

To effectively address the problem of insomnia and sleep disorders, it is necessary to adopt a multidisciplinary approach involving doctors, psychologists, researchers and policy-makers. It is important to raise public awareness of the importance of an efficient night’s rest and of practices that promote its quality.Public policies should also aim to improve access to sleep disorder diagnosis and treatment services, ensuring that all people can receive appropriate care according to their needs.

Alessandro Fiorentino