The Way You Cope Up with Stress May Increase Risk of Insomnia

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By Indrani Bhattacharyya | July 7, 2014 2:24 PM EST

A recently published study has identified specific coping behaviours through which stress exposure leads to the development of insomnia.

“Our study is among the first to show that it's not the number of stressors, but your reaction to them that determines the likelihood of experiencing insomnia," said lead author Vivek Pillai, PhD, research fellow at the Sleep Disorders & Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. "While a stressful event can lead to a bad night of sleep, it's what you do in response to stress that can be the difference between a few bad nights and chronic insomnia."

Reuters
A recently published study has identified specific coping behaviors through which stress exposure leads to the development of insomnia.

The report was published in the July 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

“The study involved a community-based sample of 2,892 good sleepers with no lifetime history of insomnia. At baseline the participants reported the number of stressful life events that they had experienced in the past year, such as a divorce, serious illness, major financial problem, or the death of a spouse. They also reported the perceived severity and duration of each stressful event. Questionnaires also measured levels of cognitive intrusion and identified coping strategies in which participants engaged in the seven days following the stressful event. A follow-up assessment after one year identified participants with insomnia disorder, which was defined as having symptoms of insomnia occurring at least three nights per week for a duration of one month or longer with associated daytime impairment or distress. "This study is an important reminder that stressful events and other major life changes often cause insomnia," said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr Timothy Morgenthaler. "If you are feeling overwhelmed by events in your life, talk to you doctor about strategies to reduce your stress level and improve your sleep."

The authors think “the study identified potential targets for therapeutic interventions to improve coping responses to stress and reduce the risk of insomnia. In particular, they noted that mindfulness-based therapies have shown considerable promise in suppressing cognitive intrusion and improving sleep.”

This work was carried out under the supervision of Thomas Roth, PhD, and Christopher Drake, PhD, in the Sleep & Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. The study was supported by funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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(Photo: Reuters / Shannon Stapleton)
A recently published study has identified specific coping behaviors through which stress exposure leads to the development of insomnia.
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