Insomnia `can lead to depression`

Men who have difficulty falling asleep are at greater risk of depression than those who nod off easily.

Last Updated: Jun 28, 2011, 14:25 PM IST

Melbourne: Suffering from insomnia? Men,
it`s high time that you consult a good doctor, for a new study
says that it can lead to depression as one ages.

Researchers at the University of Western Australia
have found that men who have difficulty falling asleep are at
greater risk of depression than those who nod off easily, the
`Journal of Affective Disorders` reported.

In fact, the study found that difficulty in falling
asleep doubles the risk of depression in older men.
Sleep complaints are common in later life with nearly
50 per cent of people older than 65 years reporting trouble
falling or remaining asleep.

"We found a strong link between difficulty falling
asleep and depression which cannot be explained adequately by
reverse causality that is, that depression causes insomnia. We
didn`t expect to find this result, so it took us by surprise,"
said lead researcher Prof Osvaldo Almeida.

He added: "Worryingly, our results are consistent with
the possibility that the use of sleeping tablets is actually
driving this increase in the risk of depression.

"Sleep is just as important to our physical and
emotional health in our senior years as it was when we were
younger. Nevertheless, some changes in your sleep are natural
as you age."

The study found that of the 5,127 men taking part, 60
per cent complained of poor sleep. Eighteen per cent of these
reported difficulty in falling asleep, 10 per cent remained
awake and 72 per cent reported early morning awakening.

For the study, participants were randomly selected
from the electoral roll. Between 1996 and 1999, 12,203 of the
men aged 65 years and older attended a clinic and completed a
questionnaire, providing a range of demographic and risk
factor data.

Approximately five years later, 10,940 surviving
men were invited to a follow-up study. Between 2001 and 2004,
5,585 men completed a second questionnaire, and 4,263 of these
attended a clinic.

"The study included only men," Prof Almeida said,
"though it is very likely that women will experience the same
sleep disturbances, however further studies will be needed to
confirm this."

PTI