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Q: I heard that insomnia is linked to heart disease. Is that true?

Yes. Insomnia is actually considered a risk factor for a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. This might be because lack of sleep can trigger a stress response in the body and can interfere with some of the body’s natural processes, such as regulating blood pressure.

There are many causes of insomnia, including stress, depression, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, alcohol, and some medications. If you frequently have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, talk with your doctor to rule out any of these issues.

Other ways you can help yourself get better sleep include practicing good “sleep hygiene” by going to bed at the same time every night and avoiding your phone and other devices when you’re in bed. Getting exercise during the day also helps you sleep better at night.

Finally, remember that insomnia can actually be a symptom of undiagnosed heart disease. Heart disease can make it difficult to sleep, because it may cause shortness of breath when you lie down, and chest pain may wake you up at night. So, talk to your doctor about any sleep problems you may be having, along with other symptoms.

Kimble Poon, MD


Wailuku Medical Office - Kaiser Permanente
80 Mahalani Street
Wailuku, HI 96793