A new study reports that insomnia is highly prevalent in adults with asthma and is associated with adverse outcomes, including worse asthma control, symptoms of depression and anxiety, poorer quality of life and other health issues.
The study, “Association Between Insomnia and Asthma Burden in the Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) III”, was published in the journal CHEST.
Sleep difficulties are commonly reported in patients with asthma; however, the prevalence of insomnia and its association with disease burden and well-being has been unknown.
Asthma is common in long-term inflammatory disease of the airways in the lungs, characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include episodes of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath, which greatly impacts the patients’ overall well-being.
A team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh sought to determine the prevalence of insomnia in 714 adults with asthma. The researchers also compared well-being, asthma control, and asthma-related healthcare utilization in participants with asthma and insomnia and those without the conditions.
All participants taking part in the study were asked to complete the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), Asthma Control Test, Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
The results showed that 37 percent of adults with asthma had clinically significant insomnia. Participants with sleep difficulties also had worse lung function, a higher body mass index (BMI), and a lower annual household income.
The researchers also found that nearly 25 percent of participants met the criteria for clinically significant insomnia, even if they reported no nighttime asthma symptoms affecting their sleep.
Participants with insomnia reported more frequent asthma-related healthcare use in the past 12 months than those without insomnia.
The results also showed that those with clinically significant insomnia had higher levels of symptoms of depression and anxiety, worse asthma control, and worse asthma-specific quality of life.
These findings indicate that insomnia greatly impacts asthma disease burden and well-being, and therefore clinicians should consider performing a proper evaluation and treatment of insomnia in their 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,” Faith Luyster, PhD, the study’s lead author, said in a news release, “and that comorbid insomnia can significantly impact asthma outcomes including quality of life and healthcare utilization.”
The researchers said, however, that “further studies are needed to gain a better understanding of the interaction between insomnia and asthma control.”