Is there a link between insomnia and asthma

There are a number of known risk factors for asthma. Pollution, dust, as well as certain chemicals increase the risk for developing asthma. Smoking, allergies, viral infections, and obesity are also linked with the chronic disease. Additionally, genetics are thought to play a role. Recently, research has also pointed to depression and anxiety as contributing factors for asthma. Insomnia is perhaps the newest risk factor to gain attention from the scientific community. Researchers in Norway have published findings supporting the correlation between insomnia and asthma in the European Respiratory Journal.

Though it has been recognized that there is a general correlation between insomnia and asthma, it has not been clear if those with asthma have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep as a result of their asthma symptoms, or if on the other hand, issues with sleeping could somehow lead to the development of asthma. The recent study, however, showed that people with chronic insomnia are 3 times more likely to develop asthma over the subsequent 11 years than those without chronic insomnia. Further, the researchers found that people who reported having trouble falling asleep almost every night over the course of the previous month were 108% more likely to develop asthma. Even for those who reported having trouble falling asleep “often” had a 65% increased risk for developing asthma in the same time frame.

Difficulty falling asleep was not the only type of sleeping problem that the researchers found to be linked with asthma. Those who reported an inability to resume sleeping upon waking up too early also experienced this increased risk for developing asthma over the following 11 years. In addition, people who said that they experienced poor sleep quality more than one time each week had a 94% higher likelihood of developing asthma.

Though the recent research on the chances that those who experience different types of insomnia will develop asthma does not establish a clear causal link between insomnia and asthma, nor does it point to any particular mechanism by which lack of sleep may lead to the development of asthma, sleep is known to be critical for health. It is therefore important to work to develop good sleep habits. Preventing and treating insomnia may not eliminate the risk for developing asthma, but it could potentially reduce the risk.

Author
Dr. Summit Shah

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