Sleeping 5 hours or less could put you at risk for several chronic diseases, study finds

Sleeping only five hours or less each night is associated with a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with several chronic conditions, according to a new study. (poet of light, Shutterstock)

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TORONTO, Canada – A new study using data spanning 25 years has found that sleeping only five hours or less each night is associated with a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with several chronic diseases.

The study, which looked at the sleep duration of more than 7,000 participants aged 50, 60 and 70, was published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Medicine.

According to the study, those who reported regularly sleeping five hours or less at age 50 were 40% more likely to have been diagnosed with two or more chronic conditions in the past 25 years, compared to people who slept around seven. hours per night.

Severine Sabia of University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health and lead author of the study, said in a press release that “as people age, their sleep patterns and patterns change”.

But spending seven to eight hours each night is still recommended, regardless of age.

Previous research has suggested that sleep durations above or below this recommended level may be associated with individual chronic diseases, Sabia noted.

A separate US study published last week found that people who slept less than seven hours had a higher prevalence of heart disease risk factors, and sleep deprivation is common among Americans.

Sabia and her team investigated whether there was an association with less sleep and the risk of developing several chronic diseases, and the researchers say that’s exactly what they found.

“Our results show that short sleep duration is also associated with multimorbidity,” Sabia said.

Multimorbidity simply means the co-occurrence of two or more chronic diseases. This is something that becomes more likely as we get older, but researchers have expressed concern as it appears to be on the rise in some areas.

“Multimorbidity is on the rise in high-income countries, and more than half of older people now have two or more chronic conditions,” Sabia said. “This is proving to be a major challenge for public health, as multimorbidity is associated with high utilization of health services, hospitalizations and disabilities.”

For this study, researchers looked at data from the Whitehall II Cohort Study, a database of over 10,000 people who were employed in the London offices of the UK civil service at the start of the data collection phase. in 1985.

Participants then reported follow-ups to track their health as they aged.

They self-reported their sleep duration about six times between 1985 and 2016. The researchers looked at this data and isolated the sleep duration data provided by the participants when they were 50, 60, and 70 years old, examining about 7,000 attendees in total.

They then looked at whether these participants had any chronic conditions and, if so, when they developed.

Their definition of chronic disease included diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, depression, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, lung disease chronic obstructive disorders and arthritis.

Supporting previous research regarding the risk of individual chronic conditions, getting five hours or less of sleep at age 50 was associated with a 20% risk of being diagnosed with a single chronic condition, compared to those who get the recommended hours.

They found that those who reported regular sleep for five hours or less at ages 50, 60 and 70 had a 30-40% increased risk of multimorbidity compared to people who slept around seven hours a night.

They also found that those who reported five hours of sleep at age 50 were 25% more likely to have subsequently died at some point during the 25-year follow-up period – an association which may have to do with the increased risk of chronic diseases that could be responsible for the mortality, explained the researchers.

But is sleeping longer than recommended associated with chronic disease?

According to research, this could happen when we hit our 60s and 60s, but maybe not before.

When researchers examined whether sleeping for nine hours or more had negative health effects, there was an association between the incidence of multimorbidity at age 60 and age 70.

However, they found no clear association between prolonged sleep durations at age 50 in healthy people and multimorbidity.

If participants already had a chronic disease at age 50, long sleepers had a 35% increased risk of developing another disease, possibly due to underlying health conditions, the researchers suggest.


This research adds to a growing body of research highlighting the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.

–Jo Whitmore, British Heart Foundation


Jo Whitmore, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation who was not involved in the research, said in the statement that “Getting enough sleep allows your body to rest.

“There are a host of other ways poor sleep could increase the risk of heart disease or stroke, including by increasing inflammation and raising blood pressure,” she added.

“This research adds to a growing body of research highlighting the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.”

Sabia said a good night’s sleep requires “good sleep hygiene, like making sure the bedroom is quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature before you sleep.

“It’s also a good idea to remove electronic devices and avoid large meals before bedtime. Daytime physical activity and exposure to light can also promote good sleep.”

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Alexandra Mae Jones, CTVNews.ca

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