Predictors of primary medical care consultation for sleep disorders

Sleep Med. 2008 Dec;9(8):857-64. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2007.09.002. Epub 2007 Nov 5.


Objectives: To describe the prevalence and risk factors for primary care consultations for insomnia and/or snoring/sleep apnea.

Methods: Retrospective cross-sectional, population-based postal survey of 10,000 people randomly selected from the New South Wales electoral roll; 3300 responded (35.6%). Direct contact with a random subset from the non-responders (n=100) was also undertaken with a response rate of 49%.

Results: The population weighted prevalence for having insomnia was 33.0%, with 11.1% visiting a doctor. The weighted prevalence for reporting a visit to the doctor for snoring/sleep apnea was 6.2%, while 2.9% reported having visited a doctor for both disorders. The percentages of males and females consulting their doctor for either sleep disorder were similar. Independent risk factors for insomnia visits were: being older, daytime sleepiness, short sleep durations, and reduced enthusiasm. Self-medication for insomnia symptoms was common. Independent risk factors for snoring/sleep apnea visits were: being older, daytime sleepiness, short sleep durations, and reduced enthusiasm.

Conclusions: The risk factors for seeking medical help for self-suspected insomnia or snoring/sleep apnea were similar. The reported excess proportion of men being diagnosed in sleep apnea clinics appears to be related to a differential referral by clinicians. We recommend that clinicians discuss both insomnia and snoring/sleep apnea because these disorders are commonly found in patients presented with either condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Phytotherapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy*
  • Snoring / epidemiology
  • Snoring / therapy
  • Young Adult


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives