Insomnia linked to increased risk of death

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Study finds insomnia increases risk of death

Do you have trouble getting enough sleep? Find out how insomnia is a major health risk.


Insomnia is a sleep disorder that prevents people from falling asleep or staying asleep, and according to a new study from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, sleeplessness is also linked to a greater risk of death in some people.

Millions of Americans suffer from insomnia, which leaves them feeling tired from a lack of rest and frustrated from not being able to get a good night’s sleep in spite of their fatigue.

In this newest study, published recently in Circulation, researchers explain how they discovered that insomnia is linked to a higher risk of death.

Although prior research has concluded that poor sleep is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, which matches that of smoking, the link between insomnia and length of life has not been clear.

The lead author of this new study, Dr. Yanping Li, a research fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital, pointed out that insomnia is a common sleep disorder, especially among older adults, yet the effect of this common disorder on lifespan has remained largely unknown.

Accordingly, Dr. Yi led a group of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in a study that analyzed data from 23,500 men who reported their sleep symptoms for a period of 6 years, starting in 2004.

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The research team then collected data from the government, as well as from the families of the men participating in the study.

As a result, they found that 2,025 of these male participants had died over the 6 years of follow-up.

When the researchers went back to the data to examine the links between the study participants and their self-reported sleep symptoms, they found that the men who reported having insomnia had a 55% and 32% greater risk of death, compared with those who reported not having insomnia.

Senior author Dr. Xiang Gao, an assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School who also is with Brigham Women’s Hospital, said that the study not only confirmed that sleep problems raise the risk of disease, but that sleep problems can also shorten lifespan.

Dr. Gao added that there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that developing healthy sleep habits is crucial for overall health, but a good night’s sleep is frequently not prioritized and therefore becomes a risk factor, even though it’s one that can be modified to improve general health.

In another study that was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers also found that caffeine, even if taken 6 hours before bedtime, can significantly disrupt sleep and reduce how much you get by over one hour.

SOURCE: The Association between Insomnia Symptoms and Mortality: A Prospective Study of US Men; Yanping Li, Xuehong Zhang, John W. Winkelman, Susan Redline, Frank B. Hu, Meir Stampfer, Jing Ma, and Xiang Gao; Circulatio, published online 13 November 2013; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.004500.


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That's scary... I sleep like a baby in Armenia, but suffered from terrible insomnia in Canada :S My mom hasn't been able to sleep properly in 30 years or more!