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Adults struggle with insomnia for nearly 12 years without seeking medical advice

The launch of the first prescription-only melatonin provides a new approach to managing sleep problems in older adults

New research shows that 60% of people with a sleep disorder called primary insomnia have never visited their doctor for advice or treatment, despite having had, on average, primary insomnia for nearly 12 years. Half of those who had not sought professional advice thought their sleep problems were “too trivial” to bother the doctor with, and almost a third felt that there wasn’t anything a doctor could do about it.1

The research coincides with the launch of a new treatment for primary insomnia. For the first time in the UK, GPs can offer melatonin on prescription to treat adults aged 55 years and over, on a short-term treatment course.2 Circadin® is a synthesised form of melatonin, which is released over several hours2 in order to mimic the body’s own production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland in the brain that plays a key role in regulating sleep, as part of the body’s biological clock; otherwise known as the circadian rhythm.

Commenting on the results of the research, which explored the sleeping habits of 1,000 older adults, Dr Alan Wade, a GP and clinical researcher from Glasgow with a specific interest in sleep and insomnia said: “the findings of this research demonstrate that we are a nation at risk of sleep-walking through our later years, due to our reluctance to seek proper help and advice. Not being able to get good quality sleep isn’t just a problem at night, but it will also negatively impact on getting on with daily life – social life, working life and family life”.

Speaking about managing primary insomnia, Dr Wade added: “Changes can occur in the biological clock regulating the body’s sleep-wake cycle and part of this could be due to a link between getting older and falling levels of melatonin. Circadin is the first prescription sleep treatment that can work in a natural way to restore the sleep cycle, resulting in better quality, restful sleep that enables people to feel alert and refreshed enough to function well the next day”.

A quarter of people surveyed with primary insomnia felt too tired to go out and socialise on an almost daily basis. One third of people in a long-term relationship admitted that their insomnia had affected their relationship with their partner, whilst over a third of those in employment felt sleepy at work everyday or on most days.1

Insomnia is known to occur more commonly as people get older; the incidence of primary insomnia doubles in the elderly population, compared to the adult population.3 Over three quarters (77%) of people with primary insomnia in the survey felt that their sleeping difficulties had got worse with age.1
Developed in collaboration between sleep experts and Lundbeck UK, ‘Sleep Advice for Adults with Insomnia’ provides advice and tips for people experiencing primary insomnia, as well as educational information about sleep and insomnia. It is available to download at: [Sleep Advice¦]

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For further information, or if you would like to speak with a patient or a sleep expert, please contact Munro & Forster Communications:

Bansree Takodra

Emma Overington

Tel: 020 7815 3900

Notes to editors:

·Insomnia is a recognised “sleep disorder”. It is characterised by poor sleep quality with difficulty in initiating and maintaining sleep, and these difficulties last for at least one month.3 Insomnia can be either “primary” or “secondary”. In primary insomnia the disturbance is not attributed to another general medical condition, mental health disorder, or substance (e.g. medication, alcohol or street drugs) as is the case in secondary insomnia. 4

· The research survey on sleeping habits of 1,000 adults aged 55-70 years old showed that24% screened positive for symptoms of primary insomnia.1

· Recent data have shown that up to 37% of patients presenting at general practices in the UK have insomnia.5

· Circadin is a 2mg tablet, prolonged-release formulation of melatonin. It is indicated for the short-term treatment of primary insomnia characterised by poor quality of sleep in patients who are aged 55 or over.2 Circadin is generally well tolerated and clinical trials reported no evidence for treatment-related withdrawal symptoms or rebound insomnia. 6,7

· Lundbeck is an international pharmaceutical company engaged in the research and development, production, marketing and sale of drugs for the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Lundbeck’s portfolio includes therapies for depression and anxiety, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In 2007, the company's revenue was DKK 11 billion (approximately EUR 1.5 billion or USD 2.0 billion). The number of employees is approximately 5,300 globally. For further information, please visit[Lundbeck¦]


1. A study on the incidence and impact of insomnia among 55-70 year olds. Kember Associates. April 2008

2. Circadin Summary of Product Characteristics

3. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, DSM-IV-TR (text revised)

4. Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2000-2002: GBD sequelae and case definitions

5. Morphy H, Dunn KM, Lewis M et al. Epidemiology of insomnia: a longitudinal study in a UK population. Sleep 2007; 30(3): 274-80

6. Prolonged-release melatonin improves sleep quality and morning alertness in insomnia patients aged 55 years and older and has no withdrawal effects. Lemoine P, et al. J. Sleep Res 2007; 16: 372-380

7. Efficacy of prolonged release melatonin in insomnia patients aged 55-80 years: quality of sleep and next-day alertness outcomes. Wade AG, et al. Current Medical Research and Opinion. 2007; 23(10): 2597-2605

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