Sleeping 5 or Fewer Hours a Night Is Linked With More Frequent Asthma Attacks in Adults

Sleeping for a short duration may be linked with more frequent asthma attacks among adults, new research shows.1

The determination comes after the study revealed that adults with asthma and short sleep duration experience more frequent asthma attacks, increased health care use, and worse health-related quality of life compared with adults with asthma and normal sleep duration.

“Previous research revealed that poor sleep quality has a negative effect on asthma symptoms in adolescents,” lead author Faith Luyster, PhD, said in a press release.2 “Our study shows that adults with asthma are equally affected by too little (or sometimes too much) sleep.”

Dr Luyster and colleagues used data from the 2007-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to evaluate the association between habitual sleep duration, patient-reported outcomes, and health care use among adults with asthma.

Of the 1389 adults with self-reported asthma, 26% reported short sleep duration (≤5 hours), 66% reported normal sleep duration (6-8 hours), and 8% reported long sleep duration (≥9 hours).

Those who had short sleep duration were more likely to be younger and non-white; those with long sleep durations were more likely to be older, women, and smokers.2

Compared with those with normal sleep duration, individuals who had short sleep duration experienced increased asthma attacks, coughing, and overnight hospitalizations. The individuals who had reported sleeping 5 or fewer hours also reported worse health-related quality of life, including more days of poor physical health, worse mental health status, and increased inactivity due to poor health.

Meanwhile, individuals who had reported long sleep duration had more activity limitation due to wheezing, compared with those with normal sleep duration.

According to Gailen D. Marshall, MD, PhD, from the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, which published the findings, the study highlights the importance of talking to patients with asthma about their sleep issues. Doing so can help determine whether the asthma plan needs to be altered.

“Disturbed sleep in an asthma patient can be a red flag indicating their asthma isn’t well-controlled,” Dr Marshall said in a press release.2

—Colleen Murphy


  1. Luyster FS, Shi X, Baniak LM, Morris JL, Chasens ER. Associations of sleep duration with patient-reported outcomes and healthcare use in U.S. adults with asthma. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. Published online May 7, 2020. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2020.04.035
  2. Too little sleep can mean more asthma attacks in adults. News release. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; May 12, 2020. Accessed May 20, 2020.