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Loneliness may cause insomnia

A study from the University of Chicago found that those who felt lonely were significantly more likely to suffer from fragmented sleep.

The researchers compared the degree of loneliness reported by 95 adults in rural South Dakota, USA. Although none of the individuals were socially isolated, their perceptions of loneliness varied - and those who felt more lonely had more difficulties with sleep.

These findings are similar to an older study from 2002 that looked at loneliness in students. That study found that the lonelier the students felt, the more fragmented their sleep.

Further evidence that insomnia and other sleep disorders can often be linked to social and psychological issues.

Oh, and before thinking all you need to do is attend more social gatherings to cure your insomnia, it's worth mentioning that loneliness and social isolation are two separate entities - it's perfectly possible to be surrounded by close friends on a daily basis but still feel lonely.

If you think feelings of loneliness are affecting your sleep, speak with your doctor.

Source: SLEEP Journal

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Last updated: June 21, 2013

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

Leave a Comment

  • Tom Hal
    May 7, 2017, 6:04 am

    Speak with your doctor for what reason? Are drugs the cure to loneliness?

    • Martin Reed
      May 9, 2017, 12:12 pm

      Drugs aren’t a cure for loneliness (as far as I’m aware). However, feelings of loneliness may be a symptom of depression, for which medical advice could be helpful. Furthermore, anyone having long-term sleep problems should seek medical advice.

      • Tom Hal
        May 11, 2017, 6:45 pm

        With all due respect, the operative phrase here is “could be helpful,” and I do not see much reliable evidence that such help is forthcoming, at least not in a meaningful cause-effect-intervention model. Considering the latest metrics of population morbidity from depression (such as the US’ standing 30-year high in suicide rates) measured against a national mental health lobby that is more prevalent than ever, the efficacy of medical intervention here (both psychiatric and clinical psychological) is, minimally, questionable. Doctors and therapists have never identified substantive causal elements of depression and have won only marginal management strategies for, no cure of, depression; nor have they succeeded in turning the momentous tide of chronic loneliness either here in the States or across the globe.

        The solution to human loneliness, I’m confident, doesn’t lie in medical interventions. It lies in the sociocultural sphere, how we build our communities. And there is abundant peer reviewed literature to corroborate this position. Again, no disrespect meant, but the findings in these studies, like the U Chicago study mentioned above, are already viscerally known to those suffering the ravages of loneliness. What remains elusive is how to end loneliness.

        • Martin Reed
          May 11, 2017, 8:38 pm

          No disrespect was taken. I appreciate your contribution.