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Sleep problems? You have a higher risk of death, especially if you have diabetes

Woman with insomnia

Those with diabetes, a common sleep problem, were 87% more likely to die over the next 9 years.

If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may feel tired and frustrated. It could also take years out of your life expectancy, according to a new study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Surrey in the UK.

The effect is even greater in people with diabetes who have had sleep disorders, the study found. Study participants with diabetes who had frequent sleep disturbances were 87% more likely to die from any cause (car accident, heart attack, etc.) during the 8.9-year follow-up period. of the study compared with people without diabetes or sleep disorders. They were 1

2% more likely to die during this period than those who had diabetes but did not have frequent sleep disorders.

“If you don’t have diabetes, your sleep disorders are still at increased risk of death, but it’s higher for those with diabetes,” said study author Kristen Knutson, an associate professor of neurology (sleep medicine) and preventive medicine. epidemiology) at Northwestern University Feinberg Faculty of Medicine.

But by answering a simple question – “Do you have trouble falling asleep at night or waking up in the middle of the night?” – people can begin to deal with sleep disorders earlier in life and hopefully mitigate this increased risk of death, Knutson said.

“This simple question is quite easy for the clinician. You may even wonder, Knutson said. “But this is a very broad issue and there are many reasons why you do not sleep well. That’s why it’s important to share it with your doctor so that he can dive deeper.

“Is it just noise or light or something bigger, like insomnia or sleep apnea?” These are the more vulnerable patients who need support, therapy and investigation of their disease. “

The study will be published today (June 8, 2021) in Sleep Research Journal.

“Although we already knew that there was a strong link between poor sleep and poor health, this illustrates the problem emphatically,” said Malcolm von Schantz, a professor of chronobiology at the University of Surrey. “The question asked when enrolling participants did not necessarily distinguish between insomnia and other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. Still, from a practical point of view, it doesn’t matter. Physicians should take sleep problems as seriously as other risk factors and work with their patients to reduce and mitigate their overall risk. “

The authors analyzed existing data from nearly half a million middle-aged participants in the UK Biobank survey. As far as scientists know, this is the first study to examine the effect of a combination of insomnia and diabetes on the risk of mortality.

“We wanted to see if you had both diabetes and sleep disorders, are you worse than just diabetes?” Knutson said. “It could have happened both ways, but it turned out that the presence of diabetes and sleep disorders is associated with increased mortality, even compared to those with diabetes without sleep disorders.”

Participants had predominantly type 2 diabetes, the most common form, although some had type 1.

Reference: June 8, 2021, Sleep Research Journal.
DOI: 10.1111 / jsr.13392

Jason Ong, an associate professor of neurology (sleep medicine) at Feinberg, co-authored the study.

The study was supported by funding from the US National Institutes of Health (grant numbers R01DK095207 and 1R01HL141881) and the Santander Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Surrey.

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