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Study Reveals High Prevalence of Insomnia Symptoms in Japanese Community

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Researchers from Yamagata University and other institutions recently conducted a study that clarified the prevalence of insomnia symptoms among a community-based population in Japan. The study, part of the Yamagata Cohort Study, found that nearly a quarter of the participants experienced insomnia symptoms, which were linked to various physical, psychological, and environmental factors. The findings were published in the journal Heliyon.

The study included 7,873 participants who responded to a Health and Lifestyle Survey questionnaire between December 2021 and March 2022. Insomnia symptoms were assessed using the Athens Insomnia Scale (AIS), with a score of 6 or higher indicating the presence of insomnia. Of the respondents, 23.4% were found to have insomnia symptoms, with a higher prevalence observed among women (24.5%) compared to men (21.9%)​​ .

The researchers identified several factors independently associated with insomnia symptoms through a multivariate logistic regression analysis. These factors were categorised into three groups: physical, psychological, and environmental.

Older age, female sex, lower body mass index (BMI), pain or discomfort, and frequent nocturia (nighttime urination) were significant physical factors. The study found that even a single episode of nocturia increased the risk of insomnia symptoms, with the risk escalating with the frequency of nocturia episodes​​.

Anxiety and a lack of happiness were strongly associated with insomnia symptoms. Over half of the participants with insomnia reported experiencing anxiety, underscoring the critical interplay between mental health and sleep quality. The study also highlighted that a positive sense of happiness was linked to a decrease in insomnia symptoms, suggesting that emotional well-being plays a crucial role in sleep health​​.

Difficult living conditions related to current income, longer duration from bathing to bedtime, bedroom lighting, and short walking duration were significant environmental factors. Participants who reported living in very difficult financial conditions had a higher likelihood of experiencing insomnia symptoms. Additionally, those who had longer intervals between bathing and bedtime, and those who slept in well-lit bedrooms were more prone to insomnia. In contrast, regular physical activity, such as walking for at least two hours daily, was associated with a lower risk of insomnia symptoms​​.

Subgroup analyses revealed variations in the factors associated with insomnia symptoms by age and sex. For women, higher BMI, bedroom lighting, and time spent on smartphones were significant factors, while for men, daily walking time was more pertinent. Among older adults, the duration between bathing and bedtime, as well as daily walking time, were significant predictors of insomnia symptoms.

The study’s findings suggest that addressing insomnia symptoms requires a multifaceted approach tailored to individual circumstances. Interventions may need to focus on improving mental health, alleviating physical discomfort, and enhancing living conditions. The researchers emphasised the potential effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for insomnia, particularly when delivered through telemedicine. This mode of intervention could provide accessible and effective support for individuals struggling with insomnia.

The large sample size and comprehensive analysis of various factors are significant strengths of this study, allowing for detailed insights into the multifactorial nature of insomnia symptoms. However, the study also had limitations, including the potential for selection bias and the subjective nature of self-reported sleep data. Additionally, the cross-sectional design precludes establishing causal relationships, and the lack of information on sleep-related illnesses and medication use limits the findings .

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