Can't sleep? Other health problems might be looming, according to a UW-Madison sleep researcher.
Ruth Benca, director of the Wisconsin Sleep laboratory and clinic, said insomnia, a condition where you have trouble falling or staying asleep, can increase risks for anxiety, depression, alcohol or drug abuse, even heart failure and diabetes.
Benca and fellow sleep researcher Charles Morin of Canada reviewed more than 130 recent studies on human sleep and published their findings in The Lancet, according to a news release from the UW-Madison news service.
"This review underscores the fact that insomnia needs to be taken seriously," Benca said in the release. "Health care providers should routinely ask their patients how they are sleeping."
Benca said about 25 percent of adults have sleeping problems, with 6 to 10 percent of the adult population suffering from insomnia.
It's a two-fold problem: not sleeping at night causes daytime symptoms, including fatigue, trouble concentrating and mood disorders.
The analysis showed people with insomnia:
— Are five times more likely to experience anxiety and depression.
— Have double the risk of developing congestive heart failure and diabetes, and have an elevated risk of death.
— Are seven times more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs over the next three and a half years compared to those without the condition.
— Are likely to continue to have problems with insomnia, with 70 percent of insomnia sufferers still having it a year later and 50 percent still having insomnia up to three years later.
— May be be treated with drugs such as anti-depressants and antihistamines that have little evidence to show they work well for insomnia.
"Whether insomnia appears along with these other conditions, such as depression and hypertension, or whether it causes them, it still needs to be treated," Benca said. "Our review suggests we need more research on the best clinical guidelines for treating patients with insomnia."