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Insomnia prevalent in patients with asthma

December 08, 2016

A team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh has found that insomnia is highly prevalent in adults with asthma and is also associated with worse asthma control, depression and anxiety symptoms and other quality of life and health issues. The study results are published in the current issue of the journal CHEST.

Patients with asthma commonly report difficulty with sleep; however, the prevalence of insomnia and its relationship with asthma burden and quality of life is unknown. Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition in the lungs in which the airways become swollen or inflamed, causing difficulty in breathing from spasms in the muscles surrounding the airways as they try to keep the passageways open. The impact of insomnia on asthma control and asthma-related healthcare utilization has not previously been examined.

The research reports that:
  • Clinically significant insomnia was present in 37 percent of the participants with asthma.

  • Those with insomnia had a higher BMI, worse lung function and lower annual household income than those without insomnia.

  • Despite reporting no nighttime asthma symptoms that disturbed their sleep, almost 25 percent of participants met criteria for clinically significant insomnia.

  • Compared with those without insomnia, the study found participants with insomnia reported more frequent asthma-related healthcare use in the past 12 months.

  • Participants with insomnia had worse asthma control and asthma-specific quality of life and higher levels of depression and anxiety symptoms. These results suggest that adults with asthma who have insomnia disorder may be at increased risk for adverse outcomes.


The research shows that there is a significant impact of insomnia on asthma disease burden and well-being and states that evaluation and treatment of insomnia should be considered among patients with asthma. "Our results show that poor sleep may not be solely due to nighttime awakenings due to asthma symptoms but may represent comorbid insomnia," said lead author Faith Luyster, PhD, "and that comorbid insomnia can significantly impact asthma outcomes including quality of life and healthcare utilization."

While it was determined that insomnia is highly prevalent in those with asthma and is associated with adverse outcomes, further studies are needed to better understand the relationship between insomnia and asthma control. Prospective and interventional studies, such as implementing cognitive-behavioral treatment for insomnia, are recommended moving forward.

The complete report on this research can be found in the journal CHEST.

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About CHEST

The American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) is the global leader in advancing best patient outcomes through innovative chest medicine education, clinical research and team-based care. Its mission is to champion the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of chest diseases through education, communication and research. It serves as an essential connection to clinical knowledge and resources for its 19,000 members from around the world who provide patient care in pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. For more information about CHEST and the journal CHEST, visit chestnet.org.

American College of Chest Physicians

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