- Sleep is an important process essential
for biological recovery and good sleep is an indicator of overall health
- Insomnia is a known risk factor for poor health
outcomes including metabolic and endocrine abnormalities, raised blood
pressure, depression and elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines
- The insomnia symptoms of difficulty initiating
sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep and non-restorative sleep increases
risk of future cardiovascular and cerebro-vascular events.
"The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep"- W.C. Fields
A good night's sleep is essential for overall health and
A recent meta-analysis has assessed an
association between insomnia and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
‘It is important to increase public awareness of symptoms of insomnia and its potential risk through health education, so that people with sleep problems are encouraged to seek timely help.’
is one of the main sleep disorders. It is characterized by difficulty in falling asleep or maintaining good
sleep. As a consequence, it leaves the person feeling tired and dull.
In modern society, insomnia is considered a common problem
Insomnia is the most prevalent of all sleep disorders and
is believed to affect anywhere from 30% -50% of all people at some point in
their lifetime. The prevalence of insomnia increases with age, with 40% -60% of all individuals
above the age of 60 suffering from the disorder.
Insomnia has been associated with a number of health
complications like metabolic abnormalities, elevated inflammation markers and
depression and can also increase the incidence of some chronic diseases such as
and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Good sleep is vital for biological recovery function.
"Sleep is important for biological recovery and takes
around a third of our lifetime, but in modern society more and more people
complain of insomnia," said first author Qiao He, a Master's degree
student at China Medical University, Shenyang, China. "For example, it is
reported that approximately one-third of the general population in Germany has
suffered from insomnia
"Researchers have found associations between insomnia
and poor health outcomes," continued Miss He. "But the links between
insomnia and heart disease or stroke
have been inconsistent."
For the study, authors analyzed 15 prospective cohort
studies that included 160,867 participants.
They assessed the association between insomnia symptoms and
incidence of or death from cardiovascular events like acute myocardial
infarction, coronary heart disease
, heart failure and cerebro-vascular events like stroke, or
a combination of events.
Symptoms of insomnia included:
- difficulty initiating sleep- difficulty
- difficulty maintaining sleep- having
problems sleeping through the night
- non-restorative sleep- that leaves the
subject feeling tired and dull
- early-morning awakening- waking up very
There were 11,702 adverse events during a median follow-up
of three to 29.6 years.
In people suffering from insomnia, the associations between
symptoms of insomnia like difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining
sleep, non-restorative sleep and the risk of heart disease and stroke, were
significant compared to those not experiencing these insomnia symptoms.
There was no association between early-morning awakening
and adverse events.
Miss He said "We found that difficulty initiating
sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, or non-restorative sleep were associated
with 27%, 11%, and 18% higher risks of cardiovascular and stroke events,
"The underlying mechanisms for these links are not
completely understood," continued Miss He. "Previous studies have shown
that insomnia may change metabolism and endocrine function, increase
sympathetic activation, raise blood pressure, and elevate levels of
pro-inflammatory and inflammatory cytokines - all of which are risk factors for
cardiovascular disease and stroke." Miss He added.
Insomnia may increase the risk of cardio-cerebral vascular
events by triggering abnormal metabolism or endocrine function, raising blood
pressure or via elevating levels of pro-inflammatory and inflammation
However, the underlying mechanisms need further evaluation.
Compared to men, women with insomnia symptoms had a
slightly higher risk of cardiovascular and stroke events than men, especially
for non-restorative sleep. This maybe due to differences in genetics, sex
, and reaction to stress.
Miss He said "We cannot conclude that insomnia is more
dangerous for women, given the limitations of meta-analyses and the lack of a
statistically significant difference between sexes. However, we do know that
women are more prone to insomnia because of differences in genetics, sex
hormones, stress, and reaction to stress. It may therefore be prudent to pay
more attention to women's sleep health."
Miss He concluded "Sleep disorders are common in the
general population and sleep health should be included in clinical risk
assessment. Health education is needed to increase public awareness of insomnia
symptoms and the potential risks, so that people with sleep problems are
encouraged to seek help."
The study is published in the European Journal of
- Qiao He et al. The association between insomnia symptoms and risk of cardio-cerebral vascular events: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology; (2017) doi/full/10.1177/2047487317702043
- Insomnia - (https://medlineplus.gov/insomnia.html)
- What is Insomnia? - (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/inso)