Prevalence and impact of sleep disorders and sleep habits in the United States



Epidemiologic studies on sleep disorders in the USA have mostly focused on specific disorders in specific groups of individuals. Most studies on sleep habits and sleep-related difficulties have focused on children and adolescents. The authors describe the prevalence of the three common physician-diagnosed sleep disorders (insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome (RLS)) by age, gender, and race in the US population. In addition, the authors describe the sleep habits and sleep-related difficulties in carrying routine daily activities. The authors also investigate the impact of the sleep disorders on performing routine daily activities.


Data from the 2005–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 6,139 individuals over the age of 16 was analyzed for sleep-related parameters.


The prevalence was highest for sleep apnea (4.2%), followed by insomnia (1.2%) and RLS (0.4%). Hispanics and Whites reported longer sleep duration than Blacks by 24 to 30 min. The predominant sleep habits were snoring while sleeping (48%), feeling unrested during the day (26.5%), and not getting enough sleep (26%). Difficulty concentrating (25%) or remembering (18%) were the main sleep-related difficulties in our sample. Insomnia, sleep apnea, and RLS had the highest impact on concentration and memory.


Our findings suggest that the prevalence of sleep disorders in the USA is much lower than previously reported in the literature suggesting under diagnosis of sleep disorders by primary care physicians.

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Conflict of interest statement

None of the authors have a conflict of interest to declare in relation to this work.

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Correspondence to Saravanan Ram.

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Ram, S., Seirawan, H., Kumar, S.K.S. et al. Prevalence and impact of sleep disorders and sleep habits in the United States. Sleep Breath 14, 63–70 (2010).

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  • Epidemiology
  • Sleep
  • Sleep apnea
  • Insomnia
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Sleep habits