Insomnia increases risk of motor vehicle deaths, other fatal injuries

October 31, 2014

DARIEN, IL - New research suggests that insomnia is a major contributor to deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes and other unintentional fatal injuries. The results underscore the importance of the "Sleep Well, Be Well" campaign of the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project.

Results show that the risk of unintentional fatal injury increased in a dose-dependent manner with the number of insomnia symptoms present. People with all three symptoms of insomnia were 2.8 times more likely to die from a fatal injury than those with no insomnia symptoms, even after adjusting for potential confounders such as alcohol consumption and daily use of sleep medication.

Among the three insomnia symptoms, difficulty falling asleep appeared to have the strongest and most robust association with fatal injuries. People who almost always had difficulty falling asleep were more than two times more likely to die from a motor vehicle injury (hazard ratio = 2.40) and more than 1.5 times more likely to die from any fatal injury (HR = 1.66) than people who never had trouble initiating sleep. Further analysis found that self-reported difficulty falling asleep contributed to 34 percent of motor vehicle deaths and eight percent of all unintentional fatal injuries, which could have been prevented in the absence of insomnia.

"Our results suggest that a large proportion of unintentional fatal injuries and fatal motor vehicle injuries could have been prevented in the absence of insomnia," said lead author Lars Laugsand, MD, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the department of public health at the Norwegian University of Science in Technology in Trondheim, Norway. "Increasing public health awareness about insomnia and identifying and treating people with insomnia may be important in preventing unintentional fatal injuries."

The study results are published in the November issue of the journal Sleep.

"Healthy sleep is essential for physical health, mental well-being, and personal and public safety," said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, a national spokesperson for the Healthy Sleep Project. "Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury, and the promotion of healthy sleep should be a fundamental public health priority."

Earlier this year the Healthy Sleep Project launched the "Sleep Well, Be Well" campaign to increase awareness of the importance of sleep as one of the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle. More details are available at http://www.projecthealthysleep.org.

The study involved that analysis of population-based survey data from 54,399 men and women between 20 and 89 years of age. Cause of death was identified using a national registry. During the 13-year follow-up period there were 277 unintentional fatal injuries, including 169 deaths from falls and 57 deaths from motor vehicle crashes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 126,000 unintentional injury deaths in the U.S. each year, making it the fifth leading cause of death. There are more than 33,000 motor vehicle traffic fatalities and more than 27,000 unintentional fall deaths annually, as well as 29.3 million emergency department visits related to unintentional injuries.
-end-
The study was supported by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the Central Norway Regional Health Authority, the Swedish Council of Working Life and Social Research, and the Swedish Research Council.

To request a copy of the study, "Insomnia Symptoms and Risk for Unintentional Fatal Injuries - The HUNT Study," or to arrange an interview with the study author or an AASM spokesperson, please contact Communications Coordinator Lynn Celmer at 630-737-9700, ext. 9364, or lcelmer@aasmnet.org.

The monthly, peer-reviewed, scientific journal Sleep is published online by the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. The AASM is a professional membership society that improves sleep health and promotes high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards (http://www.aasmnet.org).

About the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project

The Healthy Sleep Project addresses the sleep health focus area of Healthy People 2020, which provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. The sleep health objectives are to increase the medical evaluation of people with symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, reduce vehicular crashes due to drowsy driving and ensure more Americans get sufficient sleep. For more information, visit http://www.sleepeducation.org/healthysleep.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.