FRIDAY, June 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Having diabetes and frequent sleep disturbances increases the risk for early death, according to a study published online June 8 in the Journal of Sleep Research.

Malcolm von Schantz, Ph.D., from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed whether self-reported sleep disturbances, particularly in people with diabetes, are associated with increased mortality risk. The analysis used data from the U.K. Biobank (487,728 adults; mean follow-up time, 8.9 years).

The researchers found that 24.2 percent of participants reported “never/rarely” experiencing sleep disturbances, 47.8 percent reported “sometimes,” and 28 percent reported “usually” experiencing sleep disturbances. Frequent sleep disturbances were associated with an increased risk for all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 1.31) when adjusting for age and sex and remained significant in the fully adjusted model (HR, 1.13). The risk for all-cause mortality was greater for the presence of both diabetes and frequent sleep disturbances than with either condition alone. For frequent sleep disturbances alone, the HR for all-cause mortality was 1.11, and it was 1.67 for diabetes alone but 1.87 for both in the fully adjusted model.

“Although we already knew that there is a strong link between poor sleep and poor health, this illustrates the problem starkly,” von Schantz said in a statement. “The question asked when the participants enrolled does not necessarily distinguish between insomnia and other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. Still, from a practical point of view it doesn’t matter. Doctors should take sleep problems as seriously as other risk factors and work with their patients on reducing and mitigating their overall risk.”

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