Study objectives: Determine the comorbidity of insomnia with medical problems.
Design: Cross-sectional and retrospective.
Participants: Community-based population of 772 men and women, aged 20 to 98 years old.
Measurements: Self-report measures of sleep, health, depression, and anxiety.
Results: People with chronic insomnia reported more of the following than did people without insomnia: heart disease (21.9% vs 9.5%), high blood pressure (43.1% vs 18.7%), neurologic disease (7.3% vs 1.2%), breathing problems (24.8% vs 5.7%), urinary problems (19.7% vs 9.5%), chronic pain (50.4% vs 18.2%), and gastrointestinal problems (33.6% vs 9.2%). Conversely, people with the following medical problems reported more chronic insomnia than did those without those medical problems: heart disease (44.1% vs 22.8%), cancer (41.4% vs 24.6%), high blood pressure (44.0% vs 19.3%), neurologic disease (66.7% vs 24.3%), breathing problems (59.6% vs 21.4%), urinary problems (41.5% vs 23.3%), chronic pain (48.6% vs 17.2%), and gastrointestinal problems (55.4% vs 20.0%). When all medical problems were considered together, only patients with high blood pressure, breathing problems, urinary problems, chronic pain, and gastrointestinal problems continued to have statistically higher levels of insomnia than those without these medical disorders.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates significant overlap between insomnia and multiple medical problems. Some research has shown it is possible to treat insomnia that is comorbid with select psychiatric (depression) and medical (eg, pain and cancer) disorders, which in turn increases the quality of life and functioning of these patients. The efficacy of treating insomnia in many of the above comorbid disorders has not been tested, indicating a need for future treatment research.