Insomnia Boosts Death Risk: Study

Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 04:45 PM

By Nick Tate

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Sleepless nights not only increase the odds of feeling groggy in the morning, but they also boost your odds of not getting up at all, according to new research linking chronic insomnia to a higher mortality risk in men.

The findings,published by Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers in the journal Circulation, have significant implications for the 1 in 3 Americans with chronic sleep problems, researchers said.

"Insomnia is a common health issue, particularly in older adults, but the link between this common sleep disorder and its impact on the risk of death has been unclear," said lead researcher Yanping Li, M.D., a research fellow in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH. "Our research shows that among men who experience specific symptoms of insomnia, there is a modest increase risk in death from cardiovascular-related issues."

For the study, researchers tracked more than 23,000 men with insomnia between 2004 and 2010. In that time, 2,025 of the men died. After accounting for lifestyle factors, age, and other chronic conditions, researchers found that men who reported difficulty falling sleep were 55 percent more likely to die and those who said they did not sleep well had a 32 percent increased mortality risk.

"We know that sleep is important for cardiovascular health and many studies have linked poor or insufficient sleep with increased risk factors for cardiovascular-related diseases," said Xiang Gao, M.D., a researcher in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and Harvard School of Public Health and senior author of this study.

"Now we know that not only can poor sleep impact disease risk, but it may also impact our longevity. While further research is necessary to confirm these findings, there is overwhelming evidence that practicing good sleep hygiene and prioritizing sufficient and restful sleep is an often overlooked but important modifiable risk factor in overall health."

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