Many studies of adolescent insomnia use experience of insomnia-like symptoms to categorize “caseness.” This is likely to lead to inflated prevalence and may have important ramifications for the research using individual symptoms to operationalize insomnia. The aim of the present study was to contrast the occurrence of insomnia symptoms with cases of insomnia diagnosed using criteria from the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) and the second edition of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD-II) in a sample of Australian adolescents.
Data were collected from 384 representative Australian adolescents aged 13-18 years old (59% male). During school hours, adolescents completed a comprehensive questionnaire battery targeting insomnia criteria and then completed a sleep diary for 7 days.
Insomnia symptoms were frequently reported by adolescents (e.g., 34.6% for frequent sleep-related daytime consequences). The proportion of adolescents meeting the diagnositc criteria for insomnia was much smaller: 10.9% of adolescents were classified as having General Insomnia using ICSD-II criteria, and 7.8% were classified as having Primary Insomnia according to DSM-IV criteria. ICSD-II Psychophysiological Insomnia was observed in 3.4% of adolescents. Insomnia diagnoses did not vary according to age, gender, school grade, or socioeconomic status. Using the ICSD-II criteria for General Insomnia resulted in a significantly higher number of insomnia diagnoses than did DSM-IV criteria for Primary Insomnia (p < 0.001) and ICSD-II Psychophysiological Insomnia (p < 0.001).
These results reveal that approximately 3 adolescents in the average classroom of 30 are likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for insomnia, while many more will have insomnia symptoms. There were significant differences in prevalence rates, depending on how insomnia was operationalized.
Authors. Insomnia and its symptoms in adolescents: comparing DSM-IV and ICSD-II diagnostic criteria. J Clin Sleep Med 2012;8(3):295-299.