If left untreated, sleep disturbances are known to have various long-term health consequences. Severe insomnia, one of the more common sleep disturbances, increases the risk for heart disease, hypertension, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure and diabetes. For this reason, it is essential that primary care physicians monitor and treats sleep disturbances in their patients.
However, although sleep disturbances are often linked to various other diseases, they are not merely components of a larger condition, according to Larry Culpepper, MD, MPH professor in the department of family medicine at Boston University and a member of the Education Committee for the National Sleep Foundation.
“In the clinical setting, a misconception that’s still fairly frequent is that insomnia is just an almost to-be-expected part of medical and psychiatric conditions,” Culpepper told Healio Family Medicine. “That’s actually not the case. That was the major point that’s imbedded in the change from older diagnostic criteria and the new DSM-5 criteria for insomnia. In the past, we used to diagnose insomnia as either primary or secondary. Now, we’re recognizing that this is not helpful to patients. Insomnia is simply insomnia, and it stands on its own.”