Relationship of alcohol and sleep problems

January 01, 0001

Relationship of alcohol and sleep problems

Hazardous and harmful drinking and sleep problems are common, but their associations among patients seen in primary care have not been examined. The researchers hypothesized that greater levels of alcohol consumption would be associated with several self-reported sleep problems. In a cross-sectional survey in primary care practices, 94 participating clinicians recruited up to 30 consecutive adult patients, and both clinicians and patients completed anonymous post-visit questionnaires. Patients were asked questions on demographics, alcohol consumption, cardinal symptoms of alcohol use disorders, sleep quality, insomnia, sleep apnea, and symptoms of restless leg syndrome.

Of 1,984 patients who responded, 85.6% provided complete data for analysis. Respondents’ mean age was 50.4 years, 67% were women, and 72.9% were white. Of these, 22.3% reported hazardous drinking, 47.8% reported fair or poor overall sleep quality, and 7.3% reported a diagnosis or treatment of sleep apnea. Multivariate analyses showed no associations between drinking status and any measure of insomnia, overall sleep quality, or restless legs syndrome symptoms. Moderate drinking was associated with lower adjusted odds of sleep apnea compared with nondrinkers (Odds Ratio, OR = 0.61). Using alcohol for sleep was strongly associated with hazardous drinking (OR = 4.58 compared with moderate drinking).

The researchers concluded: "Moderate and hazardous drinking were associated with few sleep problems. Using alcohol for sleep, however, was strongly associated with hazardous drinking relative to moderate drinking and may serve as a prompt for physicians to ask about excessive alcohol use."

This varies from the advice usually given as part of sleep hygiene.

For the full abstract, click here.

Annals of Family Medicine 8:484-492, November/December 2010
© 2010 Annals of Family Medicine
Alcohol and Sleep Problems in Primary Care Patients: A Report from the AAFP National Research Network. Daniel C. Vinson, Brian K. Manning, James M. Galliher et al. Correspondence to Daniel Vinson:

Category: Z. Social Problems. Keywords: alcohol-related disorders, sleep disorders, intrinsic, sleep apnea, practice-based research, cross-sectional survey, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 3 December 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.