Asthma affects approximately 300 million people worldwide, with major risk factors including smoking, obesity and air pollution.
“The study found that those people with chronic insomnia had more than three times the risk of developing asthma, suggesting that any changes in the body due to insomnia may accumulate and result in more severe harmful effects on the airways,” said lead author Ben Brumpton from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Norway.
More recently, symptoms of depression and anxiety have also been associated with a risk of developing asthma in adulthood, the researchers said.
For the study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, the team used statistical analysis to assess the risk of asthma among 17,927 participants aged between 20 and 65 years in Norway.
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The results showed that those participants reporting difficulty falling asleep “often” or “almost every night” during the last month had a 65 per cent and 108 per cent increased risk of developing asthma over the following 11 years, respectively.
Similarly, those who reported waking too early without being able to go back to sleep “often” or “almost every night” had a 92 per cent and 36 per cent increased risk of developing asthma.
For people who reported poor quality sleep more than once a week, the risk of developing asthma increased by 94 per cent.
“As insomnia is a manageable condition, an increased focus on the adverse health effects of insomnia could be helpful in the prevention of asthma,” suggested Linn Beate Strand from NTNU.