Melbourne: Suffering from insomnia? Men, it's high time that you consult a good doctor, for a new study says it can lead to depression as one age.
   
Researchers at the University of Western Australia have found that men who have difficulty falling asleep are at greater risk of depression than those who nod off easily, the
'Journal of Affective Disorders' reported.
   
In fact, the study found that difficulty in falling asleep doubles the risk of depression in older men.
   
Sleep complaints are common in later life with nearly 50 per cent of people older than 65 years reporting trouble falling or remaining asleep.
   
"We found a strong link between difficulty falling asleep and depression which cannot be explained adequately by reverse causality that is, that depression causes insomnia. We didn't expect to find this result, so it took us by surprise," said lead researcher Prof Osvaldo Almeida.
   
He added: "Worryingly, our results are consistent with the possibility that the use of sleeping tablets is actually driving this increase in the risk of depression.
   
"Sleep is just as important to our physical and emotional health in our senior years as it was when we were younger. Nevertheless, some changes in your sleep are natural as you age."

The study found that of the 5,127 men taking part, 60 per cent complained of poor sleep. Eighteen per cent of these reported difficulty in falling asleep, 10 per cent remained awake and 72 per cent reported early morning awakening.
   
For the study, participants were randomly selected from the electoral roll. Between 1996 and 1999, 12,203 of the men aged 65 years and older attended a clinic and completed a questionnaire, providing a range of demographic and risk factor data.
   
Approximately five years later, 10,940 surviving men were invited to a follow-up study. Between 2001 and 2004, 5,585 men completed a second questionnaire, and 4,263 of these attended a clinic.
   
"The study included only men," Prof Almeida said, "though it is very likely that women will experience the same sleep disturbances, however further studies will be needed to confirm this."

(Agencies)