Insomnia linked to higher risk of developing asthma

31 January, 2017

People experiencing insomnia symptoms have a higher risk of developing asthma, according to a new study published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Using data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT), an ongoing health survey of the adult population of the county of Nord-Trøndelag, Norway, researchers investigated the association between insomnia and the risk of developing asthma.

The researchers used statistical analysis to assess the risk of asthma among 17,927 participants aged between 20 and 65 years. Participants were asked to report sleep initiation problems, sleep maintenance problems and poor quality sleep. They also reported any asthma symptoms at the start of the study and at the end of the study.

The results showed that those participants reporting difficulty falling asleep “often” or “almost every night” during the last month had a 65% and 108% increased risk of developing asthma over the following 11 years, respectively.

Similarly, those who reported waking too early without being able to go back to sleep “often” or “almost every night” had a 92% and 36% increased risk of developing asthma. For people who reported poor quality sleep more than once a week, the risk of developing asthma increased by 94%.

When the researchers looked at patients with chronic insomnia, i.e. they had reported one or more insomnia symptom at the start of the study and ten years earlier, they found that those with chronic insomnia had more than 3 times the risk of developing asthma compared to those without chronic insomnia.

Dr Ben Brumpton, lead author of the study, commented: “A key finding in our study is that those people with chronic insomnia had more than three times the risk of developing asthma, compared to those without chronic insomnia, which suggests that any changes in the body due to insomnia may accumulate and result in more severe harmful effects on the airways.”

The authors conclude that further prospective studies are necessary to confirm the findings of this research.

Read the paper