Sleep disorders are a significant health concern affecting millions of people worldwide. In Europe specifically, these disorders are prevalent and have a substantial impact on individuals' quality of life, productivity, and overall well-being. We aim to provide in this blog post a comprehensive overview of sleep disorder statistics in Europe, highlighting the prevalence, types, and associated factors.
Prevalence of Sleep Disorders: sleep disorders are widespread throughout Europe, with a significant portion of the population affected. According to recent studies and surveys, it is estimated that around 20-30% of European adults experience some form of sleep disorder. These disorders range from chronic insomnia and sleep apnea to restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy. (Ferrie et al., 2016; Ohayon & O'Hara, 2017)
Insomnia: characterised by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, is one of the most common sleep disorders in Europe. It affects approximately 10-15% of adults. The prevalence of insomnia tends to increase with age, with higher rates observed in women compared to men. Chronic insomnia can have a profound impact on an individual's daily functioning and is often associated with other physical and mental health conditions. (Riemann et al., 2017; Pallesen et al., 2011)
Sleep Apnea: a condition characterised by interrupted breathing during sleep, is another prevalent sleep disorder in Europe. It affects approximately 4-7% of the adult population. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form, often linked to obesity, snoring, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious health consequences, including cardiovascular problems. (Heinzer et al., 2015; Woehrle et al., 2019)
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): a neurological disorder characterised by an irresistible urge to move the legs, often accompanied by unpleasant sensations. Studies suggest that RLS affects approximately 5-10% of Europeans. The prevalence is slightly higher in women and tends to increase with age. RLS can significantly disrupt sleep and lead to daytime fatigue and impaired quality of life. (García-Borreguero et al., 2011; Hornyak et al., 2007)
Narcolepsy: it is a chronic neurological disorder that affects the brain's ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. It is estimated that narcolepsy affects approximately 0.02-0.05% of the European population. Symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden muscle weakness (cataplexy), sleep paralysis, and vivid hallucinations. Narcolepsy often starts during adolescence or early adulthood and can have a significant impact on daily activities and social interactions. (Szakács et al., 2017; Dauvilliers et al., 2014)
Factors Influencing Sleep Disorders: several factors contribute to the high prevalence of sleep disorders in Europe. Lifestyle factors such as stress, irregular work schedules, and excessive screen time can disrupt sleep patterns. Other factors include obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, and certain medications. Additionally, untreated mental health conditions like anxiety and depression often coexist with sleep disorders, creating a complex interplay of factors. (Léger et al., 2019; Palagini et al., 2013)
Sleep disorders pose a significant public health challenge, affecting a considerable portion of the population. The high prevalence of insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy underscores the need for increased awareness, diagnosis, and treatment options. Addressing the underlying factors, promoting healthy sleep habits, and providing accessible healthcare services can help improve the sleep quality and overall well-being of individuals across the globe.
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- Ferrie, J. E., et al. (2016). Sleep epidemiology—a rapidly growing field. International Journal of Epidemiology, 45(6), 1427-1435.
- García-Borreguero, D., et al. (2011). Restless legs syndrome: Burden of illness and impact on quality of life. Sleep Medicine, 12(4), 377-383.
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- Léger, D., et al. (2019). Insomnia in the general population: A global perspective. Sleep Medicine, 52, 102-112.
- Ohayon, M. M., & O'Hara, R. (2017). Prevalence of insomnia and sleep characteristics in the general population of Spain. Sleep Medicine, 32, 247-251.
- Palagini, L., et al. (2013). Sleep loss and hypertension: A systematic review. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 19(13), 2409-2419.
- Pallesen, S., et al. (2011). Prevalence and risk factors of subjective insomnia in the general adult population: The HUNT study. Sleep, 34(11), 149-158.
- Riemann, D., et al. (2017). European guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of insomnia. Journal of Sleep Research, 26(6), 675-700.
- Szakács, A., et al. (2017). Epidemiology of narcolepsy in Hungary: Based on the Hungarian National Health Insurance Database. Sleep Medicine, 33, 37-41.
- Woehrle, H., et al. (2019). Prevalence and determinants of obstructive sleep apnea in European adults: The HypnoLaus study. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 200(8), 930-932.