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We all know that we need to get the right amount of sleep at night in order for our bodies to function. Without adequate sleep we feel dopey, grumpy and it can even lead to heart disease and obesity, but now a lack of sleep is also being linked with asthma.

Thought to affect around 300 million people across the world, asthma causes have previously been linked with obesity, air pollution and smoking. It’s also thought that some symptoms of anxiety and depression can lead onto asthma too.

Man with Asthma InhalerA long term condition, asthma is most felt when sufferers have an ‘attack’. These attacks feel like you cannot breathe and cause intense pain and can be brought on by a number of reasons including the weather, emotions and can even just be random.

But why is asthma now being linked with insomnia? Well a long-running health survey conducted in Norway has been researching for a link between the two and whether having insomnia can lead on to developing asthma.

The study involved 17,927 participants aged between 20 and 65 years and everyone involved was asked to report any problems they had with getting to sleep, sleep maintenance (such as staying asleep) and if they had poor quality sleep. During the study they were also asked to report any asthma symptoms they suffered both at the start and the end of the study. These symptoms included wheezing, coughing and a tight chest.

Startlingly, it showed that participants who reported having insomnia symptoms such as difficulty getting to sleep nearly every night had between a 65% and 100% increased risk of developing asthma over the following 11 years. People who woke early and were unable to get back to sleep often or nearly every sleep would have a 92% increased risk of developing asthma and those who had poor quality sleep more than once a week had an increased asthma risk of 94%.

Most worryingly, chronic insomnia sufferers (who had felt symptoms for 10 or more years) had more than three times the risk of developing asthma. Particularly unsettling is the fact that asthma is now being linked with increasing the risk of developing many life-threatening illnesses including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

The study is still ongoing and certainly more information is needed to know whether these results are reflected in others and whether these risks are reversible. However, it’s certainly a scary thought to consider just how important our sleep is to us at night.

It’s estimated that, from a survey last year, that a whopping 37% of British adults feel that their sleep is not adequate and a quarter of us would list a better night’s sleep as one of their top health priorities. Indeed, the only health worry that plagues us Brits more is our weight.

Add to that, the fact that asthma is one of the most undiagnosed disorders and it becomes incredibly important that we all take our sleeping a little more seriously. So if you do have issues more than a few times a week, then make it your top priority to make an appointment with your GP and try to get it nipped in the bud.

Source: European Respiratory Journal

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