According to a new study, insomniac men or those who sleep for just six or less hours every night may be at an increased risk of mortality.
Lead author Dr. Alexandros Vgontzas, endowed chair in Sleep Disorders Medicine at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA., says that the findings of the study indicate that compared to people who sleep six hours or more, men with insomnia and less than six hours of nightly sleep were at highest risk of mortality.
The mortality rate of the sample was 19.6 percent for men versus 10.3 percent for women.
The study included data from 1,741 men and women who were randomly selected from Central Pennsylvania.
The researchers studied the participants in a sleep laboratory, and carried out follow-ups 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.
According to Dr. Vgontzas, insomnia is associated with medical morbidity and mortality rates similar to those seen in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.
"Based on clinical experience and previous studies, we can speculate that medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or a combination of the two can be used to extend sleep duration and reduce the risk of mortality," said Vgontzas.
Another study led by Vgontzas found insomnia with objective short sleep duration to be associated with increased risk of diabetes.
Based on their observations, the researchers suggest that people with insomnia seek evaluation and treatment from their medical provider.
The findings were presented at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies on Monday.