Insomnia’s linked to an increased risk of dying accidentally

If you have trouble falling and staying asleep, you should probably watch where you step and think about getting the bus or train to work. Seriously. According to new research reported in Psych Central, insomnia doesn’t just make you grumpy and absent-minded, but actually increases your risk of injuries and fatal accidents. (Sweet dreams!)

Lars Laugsand, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of public health at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, was lead author of the study, which was published in the journal Sleep. Laugsand and his colleagues analysed survey data from 54,399 men and women aged between 20 and 89, plus follow-up stats. The second set of data showed that in the previous 13 years there had been 277 unintentional fatal injuries, including 169 falls and 57 car crashes.

People who had reported insomnia were 1.5 times more likely to die from accidental causes than people who nodded off easily, even when variables like medication and alcohol use were taken into account. That risk jumped to 2.8 for people with three or more symptoms of insomnia (which include trouble getting to sleep, waking in the night, and daytime sleepiness). Difficulty falling asleep in particular seemed to be a red flag, with a link to 8% of all accidental deaths and a massive 34% of unintentional car crash deaths.

Obviously, no one wants to have insomnia, and it can be tricky to treat. But if you have it and it’s been going on for a while, it’s probably a good idea to seek help considering your life literally could depend on it. (In the meantime, maybe don’t think about this research when your head hits the pillow tonight…)

Image via Dee Teal’s Flickr.

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Diane Shipley

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