Insomnia may cause asthma

Everyone knows that a lack of sleep makes you feel terrible in the morning. However, increasingly, doctors are linking an inability to drop with a heightened risk of some of certain conditions, such as diabetes and memory problems.

Those who have health issues connected with breathing will also be aware that gasping for air doesn't do too much for your prospects of getting a restful night's slumber. 

However, researchers have now shown that people with insomnia may have an increased risk of developing asthma as an adult.

Risk of developing asthma three times higher

Insomnia is very common in people with asthma, but little has been done until now to see if there is a link between having insomnia and developing asthma. New research, which looked at data from a large population study in Norway (The Nord-Trøndelag Health Study, which began collecting data in 1984), has shown that there may indeed be a higher risk of developing asthma if you have chronic insomnia.

The study included data from 17,927 Norwegian people aged 20 to 65. They were asked to self-report on any troubles they had sleeping. This included falling asleep, staying asleep and the quality of their sleep. When the researchers looked at those with chronic insomnia - defined as reporting one or more insomnia symptoms at the start of the study and ten years earlier - they found that they had more than three times the risk of developing asthma.

One of the authors of the study Dr Ben Brumpton explained "A key finding in our study is that those people with chronic insomnia had more than three times the risk of developing asthma, compared to those without chronic insomnia, which suggests that any changes in the body due to insomnia may accumulate and result in more severe harmful effects on the airways."

The authors of the study believe that looking further into the adverse effects of insomnia may be helpful in the prevention of asthma.

How to sleep

Fortunately, “...insomnia is a manageable condition” says Dr Linn Beate Strand, one of the authors of the study, and there is a lot of research being done to help develop effective treatments for insomnia.

If you’re finding that you have difficulty sleeping try some of these natural methods:

  • phone in bedAvoid looking at screens, such as your mobile phone, an hour before bed - the blue light can keep you awake.

  • Lavender oil has been shown to encourage sleep. Try taking a hot bath with it before bed.

  • Get regular exercise, but the earlier in the day the better.

  • Keep regular sleep hours. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day - even weekends!

  • Write. Some people find writing down their worries or making ‘to do’ lists helps settle their mind, and aids sleep


If you think you may have insomnia, speak to your GP or make an appointment with a specialist.

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