A Year of #cantsleep

    You know the feeling – you’re tossing and turning, completely exhausted, and yet you can’t seem to fall asleep. While occasional restlessness affects everyone, insomnia is a more consistent issue that can turn bedtime into a waking nightmare.

    Insomnia is a serious problem that can impact our mental, physical, and emotional health. It’s also more common than you might think. According to one study, around 25% of Americans are impacted by insomnia each year. This impact can range from an occasional inability to fall asleep to full-blown sleep anxiety.

    Additionally, the side effects of insomnia may be worse than the feeling of not getting a restful night’s sleep. Frequent insomnia can lead to serious issues, such as hazards caused by daytime drowsiness, depression, and major health risks, like heart disease and an increased risk of stroke.

    Women are also at an increased risk for chronic insomnia. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that 20% of American women have insomnia, compared to 10% of men.

    With this staggering number of sleepless sufferers, it’s no wonder those plagued by insomnia have taken matters into their own hands and turned to Reddit for help. The Sleep Judge examined a year’s worth of insomnia posts on Reddit and came to some interesting conclusions.

    Trends Across #insomnia

    In 2019, #insomnia became one of the top 15% fastest-growing threads, with its subscriber count increased by 50% between January and August. This confirms that insomnia impacts the lives of so many people.

    After reviewing all of the posts for one year, here’s what The Sleep Judge study found.

    There Was a Pattern to When Users Posted Most Often

    One of the first things noted in this analysis was that users tended to post most often during the middle of the week, typically around noon, and during months when the seasons changed. Winter was also a popular time to post, which could be a result of seasonal affective disorder

    Traditional Medications Were More Popular Than Natural Solutions

    Although there has been a push to use homeopathic alternatives to help with insomnia, Reddit users upvoted pharmaceutical drugs over natural sleep solutions. Here’s a quick ranking of the top nine solutions:

    • CBD
    • Sleeping pills
    • Magnesium
    • SSRIs
    • Klonopin/Clonazepam
    • Antidepressants
    • Seroquel/Quetiapine
    • Marijuana
    • Xanax

    Even though CBD was ranked highest overall, prescription sleep aids ranked higher than more natural options. 

    Natural Remedies Were Mentioned More Often

    Even though pharmaceutical drugs were upvoted higher, natural remedies were mentioned more often throughout the subreddit. CBD, melatonin, and valerian root were a few natural remedies mentioned more often than sleeping pills or other drugs. Other solutions included weighted blankets, cognitive behavioral therapy, sleep hygiene, reading, breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and tea.

    Weighted blankets were an interesting solution, as this therapeutic remedy soared in popularity across the subreddit starting in February of 2019. Weighted blankets were even suggested more often than sleeping pills.

    Mental Health Disorders Were Connected to Insomnia

    Many Reddit users linked their insomnia to mental health problems. This shows how closely sleep and mental health are intertwined, with chronic insomnia sometimes leading to stress, depression, anxiety, and more.

    Over the course of the study, users mentioned anxiety more than any other mental health problem. Panic attacks and stress weren’t far behind, followed by depression and thoughts of suicide.

    The Silver Lining to Insomnia

    Reddit provides a great space for those with insomnia to communicate, share their struggles, and compare possible solutions. The good news is that 75% of people living with insomnia recover. By exchanging successful treatments and remedies on Reddit, this number may continue to increase.


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