Insomnia

It is estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans are affected by insomnia–the world’s most common sleep disorder–every year.

Characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep that results in daytime impairment, it disproportionately impacts females, older adults, and those with mental health conditions. Almost half of the US population will experience the symptoms of insomnia at some point in their lifetime.

Many experts and those who struggle with insomnia utilize social media platforms to discuss medical interventions, natural remedies, and lifestyle modifications for the condition. What are the most popular recent posts sharing? 

Search Trends

The Trends Section provides an overview of some of the most recent and relevant topics that relate to particular health conditions.

It features a selection of the topics that have the fastest growing Google search interest across the last three months, and reflects the inquiries of patients, healthcare providers, scientists, and others who are invested in the topic.

This is valuable to understand people’s interests and concerns at the present moment, and often include the U.S. states that have the highest interest in a topic. 

Quilt.AI brings these trends to life through an analysis that incorporates both cultural and scientific lenses.

When it comes to drugs to manage symptoms of insomnia, what are people searching for?

What's trending on search for Insomnia?

Search interest for “insomnia covid symptoms” increased by 39% in the past 3 month, from June to August 2022

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1. COVID-led insomnia

Studies have found that insomnia is common among people suffering from COVID, as well as among those who have recovered from COVID. [1]

Searches for COVID-related insomnia increased over the past three months, reflecting the increase in COVID infections in the US that resulted in part from summer travels. 

Insomnia has been one of the ways that the pandemic has negatively affected mental health. As things return to normal, there is an opportunity to work with HCPs to address the issue of sleep quality through clear guidelines and strategies that can improve slumber. 

2. Addressing sleep and mental health

Sleep paralysis happens when someone is not able move their muscles as they are waking up or falling asleep - because they are in sleep mode but their brain is active. Insomnia symptoms such as having a hard time falling asleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness have been found to be associated with sleep paralysis.

People whose circadian rhythms are not aligned with their local day-night cycle, such as people with jet lag and shift workers, may be at higher risk for sleep paralysis.

Critically, many mental health conditions have strong associations with insomnia and sleep paralysis. These conditions include anxiety disorders, panic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). The increasing interest in insomnia and sleep paralysis represents an opportunity to engage more people in conversations about mental health – these conversations can ultimately address their sleep issues and even save their lives.

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Search interest for “sleep paralysis and insomnia” has increased by 52% in the past 3 months, from June to August 2022

Search interest for “what causes insomnia in females” has increased by 37% in the last 3 months, June to July 2022.

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3. Sleepless women

Studies show that women tend to suffer from insomnia more than men. This is due to a number of factors, including hormones, health issues and even social and cultural norms.

Hormones. The hormonal shifts that come with menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause can cause sleeplessness. 

Health: Women are more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression, and people with depression are more likely to suffer from insomnia.

Social and cultural norms: Women “disproportionately serve as informal caregivers” for their family members, which means they’re more likely to suffer from stress and interrupted sleep. 

The increased interest in this topic points to an opportunity for more targeted insomnia solutions that acknowledge and address the specific conditions that lead to greater sleep issues among women.

4. Insomnia - the start of something fatal?

Sporadic fatal insomnia (SFI or sFI) is a neurodegenerative disease that turns regular prion proteins into a disease-causing version that can lead to brain damage. SFI’s symptoms include muscle jerking, autonomic dysfunction and double vision.

Insomnia and sleep disturbances are among the early signs of SFI. However, most who have sleep problems don’t develop SFI.

The surge in search for SFI is likely a result of its recent classification as a rare form of prion disease. The news around this has likely led to an increased interest to understand the condition generally, as well as to figure out whether one’s sleep problems may be indicative of something more serious. 

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Search interest for “sporadic fatal insomnia” increased by 280% in the last 3 months, from June to August 2022

Search interest for “does pregnancy cause insomnia” increased by 25% in the last 3 months, from June to August 2022

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5. Insomnia during pregnancy

Women can experience insomnia at all stages of their pregnancy journey, although it tends to be more common in the first and third trimesters. 

This can be attributed to factors such as late night bathroom breaks, nausea, abdominal discomfort, shortness of breath, heartburn and vivid dreams. Furthermore, women in general are more likely to experience poorer sleeping quality than men.

As rest is important in maternal health and fetal development, it’s critical for HCPs to include solutions for sleeplessness in their conversations with expectant mothers. 

Insomnia in Culture

The Culture Section highlights emerging cultural trends, new products, and notable dialogue about a variety of health conditions. The purpose of this section is to zoom in on what has been happening within the cultural and professional landscape of a particular health condition–stories that are often missed by quantitative searches.

By featuring influential social media items, patient discourse, professional dialogue, product innovations, and impactful news items, this section illuminates the lived experiences of many patients, while also providing a snapshot of the developments happening around them. 

Here, Quilt.AI offers a detailed and nuanced perspective of what is new and what is meaningful.

1. What’s keeping you up? HCPs weigh in

Healthcare providers are using TikTok to address the causes of insomnia; these videos have been very popular among people trying to understand why they struggle with sleep. Coming from a variety of training backgrounds, these experts discuss the many causes of insomnia, which can include everything from hormone fluctuations to medications to lifestyle habits. Among recent TikToks to note:

- Illinois-based chiropractor Dr. Scott Beyer’s (@drscottbeyer) video addresses sleep disturbances in the middle of the night, and has been viewed 2.4M times. 

- California-based naturopath Dr. Pedi Mirdamadi’s (@drpedinaturalhealth) video addresses poor sleep habits, and has been viewed over 64K times since it was posted in mid-August.

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2. Making the link between diet and sleep

Many health experts have have posted popular videos on TikTok that make the connection between diet and sleep. Popular topics include the types of foods to consume and avoid, timing of meals relative to intended sleep time, and appropriate quantities of food that can support good sleep. 

A common theme running through many of these diet-focused videos has been making the link between sleep and mental health and cognitive performance. These videos can lead viewers to reconsider aspects of their lives that they may have not connected to their insomnia, possibly leading to better sleep outcomes.

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@drjoe_md Eating right for depression or insomnia. #dietips #mentalhealth #doctor ♬ RelaxingMusic - MeteoMusic

3. Put me to sleep: advice from an anesthesiologist 

Dr. Robert Singleton II is a board-certified anesthesiologist based in Chicago who has a very popular TikTok account (@robertsecond53); he has over 53K followers. He posts on a variety of medically themed topics, but his insomnia- and sleep-themed videos have been particularly popular in recent months. 

In these videos, Singleton provides practical tips on how to get better sleep, and assists people who are trying to get to the root causes of their sleep problems. 

HCPs can be valuable resources for people struggling with insomnia, esp. when they can provide practical tips that are rooted in relevant aspects of their practice.

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@robertsecond53 Signs of poor sleep quality include not feeling rested even after getting enough sleep, repeatedly waking up during the night, and experiencing symptoms of sleep disorders (such as snoring or gasping for air). Improving sleep quality may be helped by better sleep habits or being diagnosed and treated for any sleep disorder you may have. #sleepdoctor #sleeptips #sleepbetter #bettersleep #insomnia #sleephealth #sleepapnea #sleepdisorders #sleep #sleepmedicine #sleepexpert #sleephelp #sleepdisorder ♬ Instrumental R&b - Teaga

4. Sleepless on Twitter 

Twitter is a key resource for the most up-to-date information about insomnia research and remedies. Many scientific study results are posted on the platform, and HCPs who are invested in the topic sometimes use these posts to update their knowledge. 

Sleep hygiene – a behavioral and environmental practice used as a method to help people with mild to moderate insomnia – is also a popular topic among those who both study and suffer from the condition. 

5. Red-eyed on Reddit

People struggling with insomnia can find support and advice through the subreddits insomnia (r/insomnia; 108K members) and Community for Better Sleep (r/sleep; 232K members). In these forums, a wide variety of topics are discussed, including sleep hygiene, sleep strategies, sleep aids (both drugs and natural remedies), diet, exercise, mental health, and dreams.

Occasionally, scary stories are posted about the agony or consequences of being sleep-deprived, and these serve as cautionary tales to prompt others to address their insomnia professionally. Other times, members discuss the social and quality-of-life implications of having insomnia.