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Binge Drinking Keeps Seniors Up All Night

A study finds older people who binge drink frequently are more likely to have insomnia.

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Booze is no quick ticket to snooze-town.
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By Valerie Tejeda

06/11/13

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Some might use booze to snooze, but the bottle isn't necessarily an effective sleep aid. Older people who binge drink frequently are actually more likely to suffer from insomnia symptoms than occasional or non-drinkers, a new study finds. Researchers examined 4,970 adults, ages 55 and older from the 2004 wave of the Health and Retirement Study; they found that overall, 26.2% of participants had two or less binge drinking days per week, on average, and 3.1% had more than two days per week, on average. After adjusting for demographic and medical variables, the study found that participants who binge drank on an average of more than two days a week were 84% more likely to report insomnia symptom than non-binge drinkers. "It was somewhat surprising that frequent binge drinking, but not occasional binge drinking, had a significant association with self-reported insomnia symptoms," says lead author Sarah Canham, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at the Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md. Prior studies show that alcohol consumption lowers sleep quality, and even light drinking can disrupt sleep among people of all ages. "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," says Canham. "Binge drinking behaviors may be an appropriate target for improving poor sleep."

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