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New research finds link between insomnia, premature death


NEW YORK New research presented at Sleep 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, revealed that men with insonmnia or those who sleep less than six hours per night are at the highest risk of mortality. The mortality rate of the sample was 19.6% for men, versus 10.3% 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.

"Based on clinical experience and pervious studies, we can speculate that medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, or a combination of the two, can be used to extend sleep duration and reduce the risk of mortality," said study lead author Alexandros Vgontzas, MD.

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

Authors of the study claimed that the findings indicated that people with insomnia should seek evaluation and treatment from their medical providers. Although the results suggested 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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