86 disorders linked to inadequate sleep

Last Updated: Jan 20, 2012, 20:30 PM IST

London: Have sleep problems? Make sure that you see a doctor soon, for a study says that inadequate shut-eye could take a toll on your life.

This is because researchers claim to have found evidence that 86 medical disorders are linked to lack of sleep, which if left untreated can raise the risk of developing illnesses
such as depression, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Doctors should routinely ask patients about their sleeping habits as they may be at the root of other disorders, according to the study in `The Lancet` medical journal.

The researchers from the University Laval in Canada and the University of Wisconsin in the US said that insomnia has "substantial long-term effects" on people`s physical and psychological health, the `Daily Mail` reported.

They said: "Despite advances in diagnosis and management insomnia is still under-recognised and often goes untreated. In view of the high prevalence and substantial morbidities of insomnia, patients should routinely be asked about sleep problems by healthcare providers."

The study says that people who have between six and eight hours sleep a night are likely to live longer and have better health, while those getting less than six hours are more at
risk of dying prematurely. The optimum duration for sleep is around seven hours.

People with insomnia are more than five times as likely to experience anxiety and depression, are at more than double the risk of developing congestive heart failure and diabetes, and higher risk of premature death, say the researchers.

The study says some of the most commonly prescribed drugs such as antidepressants and antihistamines have yet to be approved for treating insomnia.

The researchers said that it insomniacs could be provided help through the use of innovative methods such as telephone consultations, group therapy, and self-help approaches via the internet.

"I`ve drawn up guidance on the 86 identifiable sleep disorders for use in specialist sleep centres. We urgently need to pay more attention to sleep with clear advice to children in schools, parents and throughout adult life," said Dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert.

PTI