Bad news for insomnia sufferers: sleepless nights can lead to developing asthma later on in life. 

A study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology of 18,000 adults from age 20 to 65 who had trouble sleeping found that the risk of the condition increased depending on how much trouble the participant had falling asleep. For those who had trouble falling asleep most nights, their risk of developing asthma in the next 11 years shot up 65%. Those who had trouble sleeping almost every night had a whopping 108% increased risk of developing the condition.

Researchers say that smoking, obesity and air pollution have long been associated with the lung problems, but that new studies are showing depression and anxiety may also be an increasing factor: and it may manifest in sleepless nights.

Current research estimates that 300 million people around the world suffer with asthma.

Ben Brumpton, lead author of the study, stated:

“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 study, which was published in the European Respiratory Journal, does not necessary imply causation, but merely a correlation. Those who performed the research say that more studies are needed to truly understand why those who have insomnia seem to suffer more from asthma than those who do not.

Dr. Andy Whittamore of Asthma UK, who was not involved in the study, theorizes that underlying and undiagnosed asthma may be a contributor to sleepless nights. He stated:

“We know that asthma sometimes goes undiagnosed, under recognised or under reported in the general population. This study may be identifying some people with previously unrecognised asthma, but more research should be done on the important association between asthma and sleep.

We know that at times of physical and psychological stress people with asthma are more prone to asthma symptoms, which could further contribute to insomnia.”

Although nothing is definitive, doctors urge those who suffer from insomnia to monitor their condition and see their doctor if they notice signs of asthma or difficulty breathing.

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