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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 17:30 EDT

Insomnia With Objective Short Sleep Duration In Men Is Linked With Increased Mortality

June 8, 2009

 Men with insomnia and sleep duration of six or fewer hours of nightly sleep are at an increased risk for mortality, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Monday, June 8, at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Results indicate that compared to people who sleep six hours or more, men with insomnia and less than six hours of nightly sleep were at highest risk of mortality. The mortality rate of the sample was 19.6 percent for men versus 10.3 percent for women.

The study included data from 1,741 men and women who were randomly selected from Central Pennsylvania. Participants were studied in a sleep laboratory; follow-ups were conducted over the course of 14 years for men and 10 years for women. Insomnia was defined by a complaint of insomnia with duration of greater than a year, while “poor sleep” was defined as a complaint of difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or early final awakening. Polysomnographic sleep duration was classified into two categories; people who slept greater than six hours, and those who slept for less than six hours.

According to the lead author, Alexandros Vgontzas, MD, endowed chair in Sleep Disorders Medicine at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA., insomnia is associated with medical morbidity and mortality rates similar to those seen in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

“Based on clinical experience and pervious studies, we can speculate that medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or a combination of the two can be used to extend sleep duration and reduce the risk of mortality,” said Vgontzas.

Other studies have also found serious medical risks associated with insomnia and objective short sleep duration; another study led by Vgontzas that will presented at SLEEP 2009 found that insomnia with objective short sleep duration is also associated with increased risk of diabetes.

Authors of the study claim that findings indicate that people with insomnia should seek evaluation and treatment from their medical provider. Although the results suggest that people with insomnia have a lower risk for physical problems if their sleep duration is normal, they still are at increased risk for depression and may suffer from the behavioral effects of insomnia.

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