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Abnormal Sleep Patterns in Older Men Spell Trouble
Date:6/12/2008

Study found those who were outside the norm faced higher mortality rate

THURSDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- A new study suggests that older men with abnormal sleeping patterns may face a higher risk of death.

The findings aren't conclusive, and they don't indicate why unusual sleep patterns could be unhealthy. Still, they're food for thought, especially for older men, said study author Misti Paudel.

"If people think they have disruptions in their sleep, they really do need to see their physician and try to find potential causes or treatment options," said Paudel, a sleep researcher at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in Minneapolis.

The study, the first of its kind, sought to determine whether sleep patterns in older men had anything to do with their mortality rates, Paudel said.

She and her colleagues recruited 3,053 men aged 67 and older. They told the men to wear wrist actigraphs, wristwatch-like devices that measure body movement and allow researchers to analyze when people are awake or sleeping.

The participants wore the devices for up to 13 nights. "Over the course of a few days, we can see the activity patterns and compare them with other men in the group, start to look at what's normal and not normal," Paudel explained.

The researchers then followed the participants for about six years, checking to see if and when they died.

The researchers released the findings Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in Baltimore.

"What we found was that men who had [sleeping patterns] that were shifted either earlier or later in the day had an increased risk of mortality," Paudel said.

Even after researchers adjusted their findings to lessen the effect of factors like poor health, race and alcohol use, the differences in mortality rates remained. The men who hit their peaks of activity at the earliest and latest t
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