Frequent binge drinking is associated with insomnia symptoms in older adults, a first-of-its-kind study has found.
US researchers found that participants who binged on an average of more than two days a week had an 84 per cent greater odds of reporting an insomnia symptom compared to non-binge drinkers.
The results were adjusted for demographic variables, medical conditions, and elevated depressive symptoms.
Overall 26.2 per cent of participants had two or less binge drinking days per week, on average, and 3.1 per cent had more than two days per week, on average.
"It was somewhat surprising that frequent binge drinking (more than 2 binge drinking days per week, on average), but not occasional binge drinking (more than zero, but less than 2 binge drinking days per week, on average) had a significant association with self-reported insomnia symptoms," said lead author Sarah Canham, postdoctoral fellow in Drug Dependence Epidemiology, John Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Mental Health in Baltimore.
The study involved 4,970 community-dwelling adults ages 55 and older from the 2004 wave of the Health and Retirement Study who reported having ever consumed alcohol, and who had completed all binge drinking and insomnia-related questions.
Participants reported the number of days on which they had "four or more drinks on one occasion" in the prior three months. Responses were used to calculate the mean number of binge drinking days per week, which was the primary predictor.
Participants also reported the frequency of difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, waking too early or feeling unrested in the morning. Those reporting any of these "most of the time" were considered to have an insomnia symptom, which served as the outcome.
According to the authors of the study published in the journal SLEEP, this is the first study to their knowledge that examines binge drinking and its association with insomnia symptoms in older adults.
"Clinicians and health care providers should be aware of and discuss the use of alcohol with their older patients, particularly those who report poor sleep," said Canham.
"Binge drinking behaviours may be an appropriate target for improving poor sleep," Canham added.
The findings were presented in Baltimore at SLEEP 2013, the 27th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC.