The death of a spouse can understandably bring sleepless nights. Now, research suggests those sleep troubles raise the odds of immune system dysfunction — which in turn can trigger chronic inflammation.
For the surviving spouse, that could mean an increased risk for heart disease and cancer, though the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link.
“We think these individuals are more vulnerable to the negative effects of poor sleep,” said corresponding author Diana Chirinos. She’s a research assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
The study included 101 people, average age 67. Half had recently lost a spouse, while the other half were married or single.
Researchers found that the association between sleep disturbances and inflammation was two to three times higher in the grieving spouses, according to the study published recently in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. more