Study Shows Link between Insomnia and Asthma

February 13, 2017
Study Shows Link between Insomnia and Asthma

About 25 million Americans endure wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and other symptoms associated with asthma. According to a new study, however, many of these people might enjoy reduced symptoms if they could get a little more shut-eye.
The Impact of Insomnia
According to researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, insomnia is quite common in asthma sufferers and a key catalyst for worsening symptoms.
Appearing in the journal CHEST, the research included 263 asthmatic participants at varying ages. Each subject was asked to complete an Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire, Asthma Control Test, the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
After evaluating the results, the researchers found that 37 percent of the participants had clinically significant insomnia. These subjects also experienced the following increased daytime symptoms that appeared to be closely associated with sleep-specific complaints:

  • Worse lung function and higher BMIs compared to subjects without insomnia
  • More frequent healthcare use in the past year
  • Lower annual incomes than asthmatics without insomnia
  • Higher rates of depression, anxiety and worse asthma-specific quality of life

What Is the Cause?
While asthma symptoms may very well reduce sleep quality in some people, researchers believe comorbid insomnia may be at play. According to the University of Pittsburgh study, almost a quarter of its subjects met criteria for clinically significant insomnia without reporting any asthma-related symptoms that disturbed their sleep. This means doctors may be able to relieve the severity of daytime asthma symptoms by treating insomnia as a separate issue.
Assessing Your Sleep Quality
While it's not quite clear if asthma exacerbates insomnia, it is apparent that sleep problems have a substantial impact on the asthma disease burden. If you experience sleep difficulties in conjunction with asthma, talk to your doctor about potential medications and cognitive-behavioral treatments for insomnia.

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