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These Two Things Increase Your Risk of an Early Death, Says Study

The combination can raise your chances by a whopping 87 percent.

Identifying factors that can contribute to early death is important for a variety of reasons—namely because it can help extend your life. Per a World Health Organization's Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study led by Christopher Murray, of the University of Washington, there are four factors—poor diet, high blood pressure, obesity, and tobacco use—that are the primary causes of early death, defined as occurring before age 86, in the United States. Now, a new study has found that two other factors combined together can significantly increase a person's risk of early death. Read on to find out what they are—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.

Poor Sleep and Diabetes Increase Your Risk of an Early Death

According to a large study conducted by Northwestern University in Chicago and the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom and published in the Journal of Sleep Research and involving more than a half a million people, a combination of poor sleep and diabetes–predominantly Type 2– increases a person's risk of early death by a whopping 87 percent. Those with diabetes who had no sleeping issues were only 12% more prone to early death. 

"If you don't have diabetes, your sleep disturbances are still associated with an increased risk of dying, but it's higher for those with diabetes," corresponding study author Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology and preventive medicine at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, explained in a press release

However, if you answer the question, "Do you have trouble falling asleep at night or do you wake up in the middle of the night?" yes, Knutson explained that you can try to treat your sleep issues earlier in life.  

"This simple question is a pretty easy one for a clinician to ask. You can even ask yourself. But it's a very broad question and there are a lot of reasons you might not be sleeping well. So it's important to bring it up with your doctor so they can dive deeper," she said. "Is it just noise or light or something bigger, like insomnia or sleep apnea? Those are the more vulnerable patients in need of support, therapy and investigation into their disease."

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Doctors Should Take Sleep Problems Seriously

"Although we already knew that there is a strong link between poor sleep and poor health, this illustrates the problem starkly," added first study author Malcolm von Schantz, professor of chronobiology from the University of Surrey. "The question asked when the participants enrolled does not necessarily distinguish between insomnia and other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. Still, from a practical point of view it doesn't matter. Doctors should take sleep problems as seriously as other risk factors and work with their patients on reducing and mitigating their overall risk."

"We wanted to see if you have both diabetes and sleep disturbances, are you worse off than just diabetes alone?" Knutson said. "It could have gone either way, but it turns out having both diabetes and sleep disturbances was associated with increased mortality, even compared to those with diabetes without sleep disturbances." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah
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