Binge drinking and insomnia in middle-aged and older adults: The Health and Retirement Study

Sarah L. Canham, Christopher N. Kaufmann, Pia M. Mauro, Ramin Mojtabai, Adam P. Spira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: Alcohol use in later life has been linked to poor sleep. However, the association between binge drinking, which is common among middle-aged and older adults, and insomnia has not been previously assessed. Methods: We studied participants aged 50 years and older (n = 6027) from the 2004 Health and Retirement Study who reported the number of days they had ≥4 drinks on one occasion in the prior 3 months. Participants also reported the frequency of four insomnia symptoms. Logistic regression analyses assessed the association between binge drinking frequency and insomnia. Results: Overall, 32.5% of participants had >0 to ≤2 binge drinking days/week; and 3.6% had >2 binge drinking days/week. After adjusting for demographic variables, medical conditions, body mass index, and elevated depressive symptoms, participants who binged >2 days/week had a 64% greater odds of insomnia than non-binge drinkers (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.64, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.09-2.47, p = 0.017). Participants reporting >0 to ≤2 binge days/week also had a 35% greater odds of insomnia than non-binge drinkers (aOR = 1.35, 95% CI = 1.15-1.59, p = 0.001). When smoking was added to the regression model, these associations fell just below the level of significance. Conclusions: Results suggest that binge drinking is associated with a greater risk of insomnia among adults aged 50 years and older, although this relationship may be driven in part by current smoking behavior. The relatively high prevalence of both binge drinking and sleep complaints among middle-aged and older populations warrants further investigation into binge drinking as a potential cause of late-life insomnia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-291
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of geriatric psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Aging
  • Alcohol
  • Binge drinking
  • Insomnia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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