Why Grieving Spouses Who Can't Sleep May Have More Health Problems

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Research shows that stressful situations such as the loss of a loved one can lead to chronic inflammation in the body and result in serious adverse effects on your health. In fact, after the death of a spouse, grieving people may be at increased risk of developing heart disease, cancer, or other illnesses, and of dying themselves within a year.

To examine the role sleep disturbances like insomnia may play in this increased risk, researchers at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago and Rice University in Houston conducted a small study (about 100 participants) comparing recent widows and widowers who had sleep problems to married or single adults with trouble sleeping who were of the similar ages (average age was 67). They found that the connection between sleep problems and inflammation levels were two to three times higher in the grieving spouses, which could affect the ability of their immune systems to fight disease.

The study results, which were published in Psychosomatic Medicine may indicate that grieving spouses are more vulnerable to the negative health effects of sleep loss.

Sourced from: Journal of Behavioral Medicine