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A new study of men by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA, has found that some insomnia symptoms are linked to a higher risk of death.
In a recent online issue of Circulation, they describe how they found that among men experiencing specific sleep problems - such as non-restorative sleep and difficulty falling asleep - there is a modest increased risk of death from heart-related problems.
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of Americans. People with insomnia have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both, with the result that they do not get enough sleep and may not feel refreshed when they wake up.
Previous studies have concluded that sleep is important for heart health, and many have linked poor or insufficient sleep with increased risk factors for cardiovascular-related diseases.
Earlier this year, in reporting a large study on how sleep is linked to heart health through a healthy lifestyle, researchers from the Netherlands suggested their analysis showed the effect of sufficient sleep on heart-related deaths could be as strong as not smoking.
However, the link between sleep and lifespan is not so clear, as the lead author of the new study, Dr. Yanping Li, a research fellow in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), explains:
"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."
For their study, Dr. Yi and colleagues examined data on self-reported insomnia symptoms collected in 2004 from nearly 23,500 men taking part in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who were followed for 6 years.
Using information from the government and the men's families, they established that 2,025 of the participants died over the follow-up.
When they analyzed the links between the insomnia symptoms and deaths, and adjusted for lifestyle, age, and other chronic conditions, they found that:
Over the 6 years of follow-up, men who reported having difficulty falling asleep and non-restorative sleep had a 55% and 32% increased risk of death due to heart-related causes, respectively, compared with men who did not report experiencing these sleep problems.
Senior author Dr. Xiang Gao, also of BWH's Channing Division of Network Medicine and assistant professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, says:
"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."
Grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Cancer Institute, and NIH Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics and Cancer Center (TREC) helped fund the study.
Writing in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine earlier this month, researchers suggested that caffeine can disrupt sleep hours later - even when consumed 6 hours before bedtime, it can reduce sleep time by more than 1 hour.
Written by Catharine Paddock PhD
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.
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; Abstract.
Additional source: Brigham and Women's Hospital press release 20 November 2013.
Visit our Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia category page for the latest news on this subject.
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