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Research Summary

Insomnia and Alcohol Dependence

Several studies suggest a high prevalence of sleep disturbance among patients with alcohol dependence in addiction treatment settings. Patients in these settings may not represent the population of people with alcoholism at large, many of whom do not seek alcohol treatment. To examine the association between sleep disturbance and alcohol dependence in the general population, researchers studied prospectively collected data from a population-based sample of adults who were followed for a median of 13 years (n=1920). Findings from analyses adjusted for potential confounders (e.g., age, sex, history of psychiatric and drug use disorders) include the following:

  • Those with both current and past dependence at follow-up were significantly more likely than those without dependence to report ever experiencing insomnia for at least 2 weeks (odds ratio 2.6), but not hypersomnia for at least 2 weeks, or more-than-usual sleep disturbance caused by worry over the past few weeks.
  • Sleep disturbances did not significantly differ between those with past alcohol dependence in remission and those without dependence.

Comments:

In the general population, people with alcohol dependence are more likely to report insomnia. Clinicians should consider this association when assessing insomnia and when counseling patients with alcohol dependence.

Joseph Conigliaro, MD, MPH

Reference:

Crum RM, Ford DE, Storr CL, et al. Association of sleep disturbance with chronicity and remission of alcohol dependence: data from a population-based prospective study. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2004;28(10):1533–1540.


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