WESTCHESTER, Ill. – A study published in the April 1 issue of the journal SLEEP confirms the persistent nature of insomnia and the increased risk of subsequent depression among individuals with insomnia.
The study, conducted by Jules Angst, MD, of Zurich University Psychiatric Hospital in Switzerland, focused on 591 young adults, whose psychiatric, physical, and sleep symptoms were assessed with six interviews spanning 20 years. Four duration-based subtypes of insomnia were distinguished: one-month insomnia associated with significant distress, two-to-three-week insomnia, recurrent brief insomnia, and occasional brief insomnia.
According to the results, the annual prevalence of one-month insomnia increased gradually over time, with a cumulative prevalence rate of 20 percent and a greater than two-fold risk among women. In 40 percent of subjects, insomnia developed into more chronic forms over time. Insomnia either with or without comorbid depression was highly stable over time. Insomnia lasting two weeks or longer predicted major depressive episodes and major depressive disorder at subsequent interviews. Seventeen to 50 percent of subjects with insomnia lasting two weeks or longer developed a major depressive episode in a later interview. “Pure” insomnia and “pure” depression were not longitudinally related to each other, whereas insomnia comorbid with depression was longitudinally related to both.
“We used to think that insomnia was most often just a symptom of depression. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that insomnia is not just a symptom of depression, but that it may actually precede depression. In other words, people who have insomnia but no depression are at increased risk for later developing depression. This study adds to our knowledge by including a much longer follow-up period than most previous studies,” said Daniel J. Buysse, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh, lead author of the paper. “We were also able to look separately at insomnia alone, depression alone, and combined insomnia-depression. The results show that insomnia seems to be followed by depression more consistently than the other way around. In addition, we found that insomnia tended to be a chronic problem that gets more persistent over time, whereas depression was a more intermittent problem.”
Insomnia is a classification of sleep disorders in which a person has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early. It is the most commonly reported sleep disorder. About 30 percent of adults have symptoms of insomnia. It is more common among elderly people and women.
It is recommended that adults get between seven and eight hours of nightly sleep.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers the following tips on how to get a good night’s sleep:
- Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
- Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
- Get a full night’s sleep every night.
- Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.
- Do not bring your worries to bed with you.
- Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either.
- Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.
- Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
- Get up at the same time every morning.
Those who suspect that they might be suffering from insomnia, or another sleep disorder, are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist.
SLEEP is the official journal of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC, a joint venture of the AASM and the Sleep Research Society.
, a patient education Web site created by the AASM, provides information about various sleep disorders, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted and a listing of sleep facilities.
For a copy of this article, entitled, “Prevalence, Course and Comorbidity of Insomnia and Depression in Young Adults,” or to arrange an interview with an AASM spokesperson regarding this study, please contact Jim Arcuri, public relations coordinator, at (708) 492-0930, ext. 9317, or firstname.lastname@example.org
SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies and the world’s largest annual gathering of sleep scientists and sleep medicine professionals, will take place in Baltimore, Maryland, from June 9-12, 2008. SLEEP 2008 will bring together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians, who will present and discuss over 1,100 new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders. The deadline to register is Friday, May 30, 2008. Contact Jim Arcuri at (708)492-0930, ext. 9317, or email@example.com for more information or to register for a free press pass. More details, including the program schedule and a list of invited lecturers, are available at www.SleepMeeting.org.
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