Sleep Tight, or Die Younger: Men With Insomnia at Risk Study Says

Most men don’t need another reason to lose sleep these days – the current state of the job and housing markets, and the stifling summer heat, are reasons enough. But a new report might just convince men to do all they can to get enough shut-eye – if they want to live a longer life.

A study of 741 Central Pennsylvania men with an average age of 50 were classified as either normal sleepers or chronic insomniacs, based upon their self-reported information as well as the fact they spent one night in a sleep laboratory. Six percent of the men, or about 44, were ultimately determined to have chronic insomnia.

The researchers followed up on the men and determined that just over half of the men who were chronic insomniacs had died within 14 years. The 1,000 women who participated in the study were not shown to be any more at risk of death if they had insomnia, although only 10 years had elapsed after they volunteered for the study.

Although critics have spoken out to say that the sample size was rather small for the men, the researchers who compiled the report did take into account factors such as smoking, obesity and sleep apnea. After doing so, the researchers still arrived at the conclusion the men with chronic insomnia were four more times as likely to die as normal sleepers.

The director of the Sleep Disorders Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey said the findings indicate that insomnia should now be thought of as more than just a psychological disorder. There is evidence that suggests sleep problems may contribute to clogged arteries and a disrupted immune system. One study by the same lead researcher showed that curtailing sleep in young adults for just two hours a night over one week was linked to inflammation that can cause cardiovascular problems.

As the researchers put it, insomnia does not directly cause death, but its effects can wear on men over long periods of time and make them more likely to succumb to other health issues. Men with diabetes and high blood pressure were even more likely to pass away if they had chronic insomnia.

The researchers stated that other factors may be involved in the end results (such as the men being in worse health than the women at study commencement), and that more study is needed to verify the findings.

About 30 percent of the U.S. population is believed to suffer from sleeping problems. There is no known cause for insomnia. And although the condition is more prevalent in women, it is typically more severe among men. The end result for men appears to be more severe and swift as well.

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