A combination of poor sleep and diabetes significantly increases a person's risk of early death, a new study finds.
The analysis of data from nearly 500,000 middle-aged adults in the United Kingdom showed that compared to other folks, the risk of death from any cause over nearly nine years was 87% higher among those with diabetes and frequent sleep disturbances. It was 12% higher among those with diabetes who had no trouble sleeping.
"If you don't have diabetes, your sleep disturbances are still associated with an increased risk of dying, but it's higher for those with diabetes," said corresponding study author Kristen Knutson. She's an associate professor of neurology and preventive medicine at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine.
The strong link between poor sleep and poor health was already known, but this study "illustrates the problem starkly," said first study author Malcolm von Schantz, professor of chronobiology at the University of Surrey.
"The question asked when the participants enrolled does not necessarily distinguish between insomnia and other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea," he noted. "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."