Trouble sleeping could cause serious medical conditions

Kevin Magna

January 23, 2012

A good night's sleep might ward off cognitive problemsHaving trouble sleeping can cause people to fall, feel disoriented or even become obese, according to previous studies. However, a new study published in the Journal of Sleep Research recently found that people with sleeping disruptions may also be at risk for obesity, diabetes and heart conditions.

Researchers found this out by looking at data from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System – an annual phone survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists looked at the responses of 138,201 patients and checked to see if those with sleep problems also had certain medical conditions.

From the results, researchers found that participants who had issues such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping too much for three or more days a week were at a greater risk for other medical conditions. These people were 35 percent more likely to be obese, 54 percent more likely to have diabetes and 98 percent more likely to have coronary artery disease. Troubled sleepers also had an 80 percent higher risk of having a heart attack and were 102 percent more likely to suffer a stroke.

Elders living alone with sleeping disorders might want to install a medical alert system in their homes for added precautions. Even if they don't have these serious health conditions, lack of sleep can make them more prone to falls, which may land them in the hospital.