Binge Drinking Linked To Insomnia Older Adults
June 11, 2013

Nightcap? Better Not – Binge Drinking Linked To Insomnia In Older Adults

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

Frequent binge drinking is associated with insomnia symptoms in older adults, a new study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine finds.

The study findings, published in the journal SLEEP, reveal that 26.2 percent of participants had two or less binge drinking days per week on average, while 3.1 percent had more than two days per week. The team adjusted their results for demographic variables, medical conditions and elevated depressive symptoms. They found that compared to non-binge drinkers, participants who binged an average of more than two days a week had an 84 percent greater risk of reporting an insomnia symptom.

“It was somewhat surprising that frequent binge drinking (more than 2 binge drinking days per week, on average), but not occasional binge drinking (more than zero, but less than 2 binge drinking days per week, on average) had a significant association with self-reported insomnia symptoms,” said Sarah Canham, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in Drug Dependence Epidemiology, John Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Mental Health. Carnham presented the findings at the 27th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, SLEEP 2013.

The research team compiled their data from the 2004 wave of the Health and Retirement Study, focusing on 4,970 community-dwelling adults ages 55 and older who reported having ever consumed alcohol, and who had completed all binge drinking and insomnia-related questions. The survey asked participants to report the number of days on which they had “four or more drinks on one occasion” in the past three months.

Researchers used the responses to calculate the mean number of binge drinking days per week, which was the primary predictor. Other questions covered the frequency of difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, waking too early or feeling unrested in the morning. Any participants reporting any of these problems “most of the time” were considered to have an insomnia symptom, which served as the outcome.

This is the first study to examine binge drinking and its association with insomnia symptoms in older adults, according to the research team.

“Clinicians and health care providers should be aware of and discuss the use of alcohol with their older patients, particularly those who report poor sleep,” said Canham. “Binge drinking behaviors may be an appropriate target for improving poor sleep.”