People who suffer from anxiety from stressful life situations may be more likely to experience sleep disturbances for at least the first six months after the event, according to the November 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.
The study, authored by Jussi Vahtera, MD, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, Finland, assessed each person’s liability to anxiety, as determined by a general feeling of stressfulness and symptoms of hyperactivity, prior to a stressful event. The occurrence of post-onset life events (i.e., death or illness in the family, divorce, financial difficulty and violence) and sleep disturbances was measured at follow-up five years later.
According to the results, both liability to anxiety and exposure to negative life events were strongly associated with sleep disturbances.
“This five-year follow-up showed that exposure to severe stressful events can trigger sleep disturbances in people with undisturbed sleep before the event. Those liable to anxiety before the event seemed to be at a higher risk of post-event sleep disturbances compared with those not liable to anxiety,” said Vahtera. “Control for a large number of potential confounding factors suggest that the observed associations were not explained by socioeconomic position, obesity, high alcohol intake or chronic medical conditions at study entry.”