Can Poor Sleep Escalate Kidney Disease? (Research Says Yes)

Millions of men and women around the globe – in every ethnic group, nation, and walk of life – suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The World Health Organization reports that chronic kidney disease is a leading cause of death worldwide, and fatalities linked to chronic kidney disease are rising at a rate of eight percent annually. Kidney disease is a growing international health concern.

According to National Kidney Foundation estimates, about 26 million of us in the U.S. suffer with CKD, and it’s responsible for over 90,000 deaths in this country every year.

New research published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology suggests that good sleeping habits are essential for anyone who is struggling with chronic kidney disease.

The researchers found significant evidence indicating that a lack of sleep and poor sleeping habits may exacerbate CKD and even increase the speed of the disease’s progression.

Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago worked together to examine the 431 participants in the study and the link between sleep and the progress of chronic kidney disease.

CKD is the incremental loss of kidney function, usually over a period of years or even decades.

Although chronic kidney disease may eventually progress to kidney failure, and although there is no cure, if CKD is diagnosed early and accurately and treated properly, the majority of chronic kidney disease patients can manage the condition with prescription drugs and without significantly disrupting their lives, families, or everyday routines.

CKD may be caused by high blood pressure, diabetes, or a number of other conditions. Early diagnosis and treatment are absolutely imperative.

Poor sleeping habits are associated with insulin resistance, deteriorating cardiac function, high levels of inflammation, and poor appetite regulation.

Older studies have indicated that poor sleeping habits are common among chronic kidney disease patients, but apparently no previous researchers – prior to the combined Northwestern/University of Illinois effort – have directly investigated the impact of poor sleeping habits on the progression of CKD.


In this most recent study, 48 percent of the participants were women, half had diabetes, and the mean age of participants was 60.

Participants wore an accelerometer – a device that measures motion and sleep duration – for a period of five to seven days.

Participants also maintained a sleep journal and logged in writing the hours they slept.

Five years of follow-up monitoring was then conducted by researchers.

Dr. Ana Ricardo, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Illinois, reports, “We observed that sleep is seriously impaired in these patients with chronic kidney disease.”

The average period of sleep for the study participants was 6.5 hours each night. Frequently interrupted sleep, a condition known as “sleep fragmentation,” was linked with a heightened risk of eventual kidney failure.

Shorter periods of sleep and longer bouts of fragmentation were linked to a more rapid progression of CKD. During the five-year follow-up period, 70 of the participants experienced kidney failure, leading to 48 deaths.


After making statistical adjustments for demographics, diabetes, blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, body mass index, and baseline kidney function, researchers linked each added hour of sleep to a 19 percent lower risk for eventual kidney failure.

Researchers also found a significant link between the risk of kidney failure and the quality of sleep: every one percent increase in sleep fragmentation corresponded to a 4 percent increased

Researchers also found a significant link between the risk of kidney failure and the quality of sleep: every one percent increase in sleep fragmentation corresponded to a 4 percent increased risk of eventual kidney failure.

Patients who felt sleepy in the daytime were ten percent more likely to die in the five-year follow-up period than who did not feel fatigue during the daytime.

“Each hour less of sleep duration increases the risk for deterioration of kidney function over time,” according to Dr. Ricardo.

She added that many patients who are suffering with chronic kidney disease are also likely to experience problems with sleep apnea because the conditions share risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

“If we find that sleep apnea is a main driver of poor sleep among patients with chronic kidney disease, then perhaps ensuring that it is treated can help improve overall outcomes,” Dr. Ricardo concluded.

CKD patients should actively attempt to learn more about their condition. Reliable resources are provided by the American Kidney Fund, the National Kidney Foundation, and a number of other sources.

Patients must not hesitate to ask questions, and they should accept nothing but clear, candid, and comprehensive responses from their healthcare providers.

You must feel that the doctors and others who provide your healthcare services are trustworthy.


In fact, if you’ve received a diagnosis of CKD, you cannot put yourself in the hands of negligent or careless healthcare providers.

With 26 million CKD sufferers in the United States, the opportunities for medical malpractice in the treatment of CKD are abundant.

If you are victimized by medical malpractice while seeking or obtaining CKD treatment, take your case at once to an experienced medical malpractice attorney who routinely works on behalf of CKD patients.

Treatment for kidney disease is advancing rapidly on a number of promising fronts, so there is no reason whatsoever for a kidney disease patient to suffer unnecessarily.

When CKD is diagnosed accurately and early, its progress can be slowed or even virtually halted. Many patients successfully manage CKD for years. However, in too many other cases, an early, accurate diagnosis of CKD and the right treatment just don’t happen.

When tests and examinations are not conducted, when test and exam results are misinterpreted, when a needed referral isn’t made, or when CKD goes untreated or is improperly treated, medical malpractice has been committed.

Under the law in every state, although the precise wording of the statutes may differ, medical malpractice is generally defined as a violation of the “reasonable standard of care” that most doctors routinely provide, but it’s often difficult to determine on your own whether or not you are a victim of medical malpractice.

Every allegation of medical malpractice is unique, and every malpractice case must be comprehensively considered from a number of perspectives.

If you are dealing with chronic kidney disease and you believe that you are a victim of medical negligence, obtain the advice and insights of an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can explain your legal rights and options, and if necessary, advocate on your behalf.

In all fifty states, the victims of negligence – who can prove they are victims of negligence – are entitled by law to complete compensation for their injuries, losses, and suffering.

By: Jed Kurzban

Medical malpractice attorney Jed Kurzban graduated from the University of Alabama in 1992 and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 1995. He is a member of the Dade County Bar Association, the Florida Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, and the American Bar Association. Mr. Kurzban is happily married and the father of two.