This research adds to a growing body of research that highlights the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.
In mid-to-late life, getting less than five hours of sleep may increase your risk of developing at least two chronic illnesses, according to a recent study led by researchers at University College London (UCL). PLOS Medicine published the study.
The research analyzed the impact of sleep duration on the health of more than 7,000 men and women at the ages of 50, 60, and 70, from the Whitehall II cohort study.
Researchers looked into whether each participant had been diagnosed with two or more chronic conditions (multimorbidity), such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, as well as the relationship between sleep duration and mortality. 25 years were spent on this.
People who reported sleeping for five hours or less at age 50 were 40% more likely to have been diagnosed with two or more chronic diseases over the course of 25 years compared to those who reported sleeping for up to seven hours. Furthermore, compared to persons who slept for seven or more hours per night, those who slept for five hours or less per night at the ages of 50, 60, and 70 had a 30% to 40% higher risk of multimorbidity. The study’s findings showed that a sleep duration of five hours or less at age 50 was linked to a 25% higher risk of mortality throughout a 25-year follow-up period. Short sleep duration raises the chance of chronic disease(s), which in turn increases the probability of death, which is the main explanation behind this.
Lead author, Dr. Severine Sabia (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health, and Inserm, Université Paris Cité) said: “Multimorbidity is on the rise in high-income countries and more than half of older adults now have at least two chronic diseases. This is proving to be a major challenge for public health, as multimorbidity is associated with high healthcare service use, hospitalizations and disability. As people get older, their sleep habits and sleep structure change. However, it is recommended to sleep for 7 to 8 hours a night— as sleep durations above or below this have previously been associated with individual chronic diseases. Our findings show that short sleep duration is also associated with multimorbidity. To ensure a better night’s sleep, it is important to promote good sleep hygiene, such as making sure the bedroom is quiet, dark and a comfortable temperature before sleeping. It’s also advised to remove electronic devices and avoid large meals before bedtime. Physical activity and exposure to light during the day might also promote good sleep.”
Researchers examined if getting a long night’s sleep—nine hours or more—had an impact on health outcomes as part of the study. Long sleep durations at age 50 did not appear to be significantly associated with multimorbidity in healthy individuals. Long periods of sleep were linked to a 35% higher risk of contracting another illness, though, if a participant had already been diagnosed with a chronic condition. This, according to researchers, may be a result of underlying medical issues that affect sleep.
Jo Whitmore, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation said: “Getting enough sleep allows your body to rest. There are a host of other ways that poor sleep could increase the risk of heart disease or stroke, including by increasing inflammation and increasing blood pressure. “
Self-reported data on sleep was employed by the researchers, and reporting bias is probably present. The results were validated, however, using information from 4,000 people whose sleep was monitored by an electronic device. Data on sleep quality, however, were only available for people between the ages of 60 and 70.
The only participants in the Whitehall II study are civil servants, who were all employed at the time of recruitment and are therefore probably in better physical and mental condition than the general population.