Insomnia symptoms may be linked to an increased risk of mortality in men.

Insomnia, the most common sleep disorder, affects up to one-third of the population in the United States. Recently published findings from researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found that insomnia symptoms, such as difficulty falling asleep and restless or non-restorative sleep, may be linked to an increased risk of mortality in men.

“Insomnia is a common health issue, particularly in older adults, but the link between this common sleep disorder and its impact on the risk of death has been unclear,” says Dr. Yanping Li, a research fellow in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and lead author of the paper.  “Our research shows that among men who experience specific symptoms of insomnia, there is a modest increased risk in death from cardiovascular-related issues.”

Researchers followed more than 23,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who had reported insomnia symptoms for a period of six years. After adjusting for lifestyle factors, age, and other chronic health conditions, researchers found that men who reported difficulty falling sleep and non-restorative sleep had a 55 percent and 32 percent increased risk of death due cardiovascular disease, respectively, when compared to men who did not report these insomnia-related symptoms.

“We know that sleep is important for cardiovascular health, and many studies have linked poor or insufficient sleep with increased risk factors for cardiovascular-related diseases,” says Dr. Xiang Gao, a researcher in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH, and senior study author.  “Now we know that not only can poor sleep impact disease risk, but it may also impact our longevity. While further research is necessary to confirm these findings, there is overwhelming evidence that practicing good sleep hygiene and prioritizing sufficient and restful sleep is an often overlooked but important modifiable risk factor in overall health.”

Learn more about sleep and how to get a good night’s sleep:

– Lori S.

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