Sleep deprivation and kidney disease have been found to increase the risk of each other. New research was conducted on women and found that those who slept five hours a night or less had a 65 percent higher risk of developing kidney disease.
To complete the study researchers examined the sleep habits of thousands of women. Their findings compared women who slept for five hours or less to those who slept for seven hours or more. Lead researcher, Dr. Ciaran McMullan, said, “This is concerning because as a general population the amount of sleep we are getting has decreased over the last 20 years.”
Previous reports of American sleep habits revealed that we used to achieve eight hours a night but now the country average is 6.5 hours.
The researchers did not determine if improving sleep could reverse or improve kidney function. Additionally, Dr. McMullan cautions that the research only shows an association between sleep deprivation and kidney disease and does not reveal cause and effect. Previous research revealed that a lack of sleep could contribute to heart disease.
Dr. McMullan suggests that a lack of sleep contributes to poor kidney function because it increases the risk of other ailments that can impair the kidneys, such as diabetes. He said, “Diabetes occurs more often in people who sleep less, as does high blood pressure. We know that two of the greatest factors that decrease kidney function are diabetes and high blood pressure.”
There may also be a role played by the body’s own circadian clock; the kidneys work differently at night. He explained, “Maybe short sleep changes the physiology of the kidney over the daily cycle, and these changes might damage the kidney.”
With the rise of an aging population and high blood pressure, kidney problems, too, are on the rise.
Although the research was conducted on women, Dr. McMullan suggests the same results can be found in men, but further research will need to be conducted to confirm that.
Kidney disease and its effect on sleep
Although the latest findings suggest that sleep deprivation contributes to kidney disease, the reverse can be said as well: kidney disease can contribute to poor sleep. It is well known that those with kidney disease have higher rates of insomnia – a sleep disorder that prevents a person from falling or staying asleep. Additionally, individuals with kidney disease can also suffer from sleep apnea, which momentarily stops their breathing several times a night.
Treatment for kidney disease – dialysis – can lead to aches and pains or even restless legs, which can cause sleep disruptions.
Worse yet, a lack of sleep can advance kidney disease, so it’s important to speak with your doctor if your kidney disease diagnosis is disturbing your sleep.
Sleep problems due to kidney disease
Insomnia: Insomnia in kidney disease can be caused by one of many factors: financial burden of therapy, comorbid depression or anxiety, or comorbid sleep disorders.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS): RLS is a condition where a person’s legs feel jittery and as if they have to move them. This can be disturbing and wake you numerous times throughout the night. Relief is only found when legs are in motion. RLS has been found to occur in those with kidney disease.
Sleep apnea syndrome (SAS): It has been studied that those with kidney disease have a higher prevalence of sleep apnea. SAS is more prevalent in overweight males with a larger neck circumference.
Tips for getting a good night’s sleep with kidney disease
- Exercise during the day to tire yourself out for bedtime.
- Keep your sleep on a schedule or routine and try to stick with it.
- Limit your nap times.
- Cut back on alcohol and caffeine and don’t smoke.
- Relax prior to bed.
- Be comfortable prior to bed, and ensure your bedroom is set up to promote sleep – this means turning the lights off, setting the temperature appropriately and cutting out any distractions.
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