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Insomnia Triples Your Risk of Developing Asthma

Adult onset-asthma has been linked to a variety of factors ranging from heredity and obesity to air pollution and smoking.  Now, scientists have discovered another factor that significantly increases your chances of developing asthma later in life:  insomnia.

The surprising findings come from a Norwegian study published last week in the European Respiratory Journal.  Researchers examined data from nearly 18,000 individuals tracked over an 11-year period to better understand the relationship between asthma and sleep problems.

Participants who experienced difficulty falling asleep “often” had a 65% greater chance of developing asthma after 11 years, while the risk for those who reported this problem “almost every night” jumped to a whopping 108%.

Overall, people with chronic sleeplessness were 94% more likely to have asthma than those who experienced regular, quality sleep.

Study scientists are still not clear on the relationship between asthma and insomnia, including whether or not insomnia can cause asthma symptoms to appear.  The findings demonstrate a strong and clear connection between the two, although this does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

But these researchers speculate that changes in the body that make sleep difficult can accumulate and cause more severe, chronic damage to the airway over time.  Addressing the causes of insomnia could be an important step in preventing asthma in adults.

Identifying insomnia as a risk factor for asthma can also help prevent chronic respiratory conditions from developing.  Trouble sleeping should be seen as an early warning sign for adult asthma and provide motivation for individuals to seek treatment before it’s too late.

Good sleep is increasingly recognized as a key health indicator, the benefits of which are essential for long-term health.  If you’ve experienced trouble sleeping for an extended period of time, you should speak with your doctor or healthcare provider about your symptoms.