People who experience trouble sleeping, especially those with diabetes, were found to be at higher risk for dying early, according to a new study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.
The study showed that people with frequent sleep problems and diabetes were 87% more likely to die within the next nine years.
“If you don’t have diabetes, your sleep disturbances are still associated with an increased risk of dying, but it’s higher for those with diabetes,” said corresponding study author Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology and preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Those with diabetes and reported sleep issues were also 12% more likely to die over the nine-year period than those with diabetes and no sleep problems, according to the new data.
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Participants were asked in a survey if they have trouble falling asleep or wake up in the middle of the night, which Knutson said is the first step toward addressing the problem early enough.
“Is it just noise or light or something bigger, like insomnia or sleep apnea? Those are the more vulnerable patients in need of support, therapy and investigation into their disease," she said.
First study author, Malcolm von Schantz, professor of chronobiology at the University of Surrey, said officials already knew there was a connection between poor sleep and poor health. However, he said this study provided a clearer image for him on the major problem.
"Doctors should take sleep problems as seriously as other risk factors and work with their patients on reducing and mitigating their overall risk," Schantz said.
Northwestern's study was the first to examine the connection between insomnia, diabetes and mortality, a release said. The analysis looked at half a million middle-aged patients in the U.K.