I obviously cannot read every journal that comes out; I rely on JAMA to review important articles from disparate journals in the section “Clinical Trials Update” to stay as up to date as possible on non-gynecologic issues. This week, as I continued to recover from my own jet-lag induced insomnia, my attention was drawn to a review of a study that had been published in the journal “Stroke”. (Yes there are medical journals that specialize in just about every disorder.) The study was based on a review of claims data from 21,438 people with insomnia and 64,314 age and sex-matched controls in Taiwan. (I can’t help but do this; if it were a movie it would be called “Sleepless in Taiwan”!)
The researchers compared the two groups of participants for a period of four years. They found that the overall incidence of stroke was eight times higher among those who had been diagnosed as having insomnia between the ages of 18 and 34 when compared with controls who were without sleep problems. The risk seemed to become less with age, but in all age group, those with insomnia had a higher risk of stroke than those who slept well. Interestingly, women with insomnia had a 28% lower risk of stroke compared with insomniac men. (This may demonstrate that there are additional gender factors protecting our brains, perhaps our estrogen…)
The JAMA editors cite evidence to explain the study results. Insomnia can alter cardiovascular health by increasing inflammation, diminishing appropriate response to glucose (i.e. glucose intolerance), increasing blood pressure and causing increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system.
There are so many reasons to treat insomnia but now we have one more, especially in young adults. Medical research (and our own sense of alertness and well being) continues to demonstrate that a good night’s sleep is as important as our daytime behaviors for future healthspan and lifespan.