You’ve tried dietary supplements, relaxation techniques, exercise — even warm milk, but you can’t fall or stay asleep.
You’re not alone. Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint among Americans.
According to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, about 50 to 70 million Americans say they have some symptoms of insomnia within a given year, and about 10 to 15 percent of adults say they have chronic insomnia.
The role sleep plays in keeping us healthy is becoming better understood. For instance, researchers are looking at various links between sleep, interruption of the natural circadian rhythms, and the risk of chronic illness, such as cancer development.
Researchers in Iceland found men who reported sleep problems — including difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep — were twice as likely to develop prostate cancer compared to those with no sleep disruptions. This is according to data published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
“Women with sleep disruption have consistently been reported to be at an increased risk for breast cancer, but less is known about the potential role of sleep problems in prostate cancer,” said Lara G. Sigurdardóttir, M.D., a researcher at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik who led the study.
Researchers have suspected for some time that a disruption in circadian rhythms, a person’s natural internal 24-hour clock, is linked to increased risk of cancer as well as other diseases and health conditions.
Previous studies have generated conflicting results for an association between sleep disruption from working night shifts and the risk for prostate cancer. Sigurdardóttir and her colleagues wanted to know what role, if any, sleep played in influencing prostate cancer risk.
“Prostate cancer is one of the leading public health concerns for men and sleep problems are quite common,” Sigurdardóttir said in a written statement.
The researchers followed 2,102 older Icelandic men without prostate cancer, aged 67 to 96, for five years.