sleep deprivation

Sleeping Less Than 5 Hours Per Night Could Increase Your Risk of Chronic Disease, Study Shows

 

There’s a scientifically proven relationship between lack of sleep and the occurrence of chronic disease. Lack of proper sleep can increase your risk of you getting a chronic disease. Check available research out there and you’ll see for yourself. 

Prioritizing sleep is nothing new to centenarians in blue zones regions. As the world’s longest-living population, centenarians are adamant about getting adequate sleep every day, which is aligned with their slower pace of living. A hurried life is a recipe for stress and chronic disease. For centenarians, slow living—with plenty of rest and activities to support reducing stress—prolongs their longevity. 

A hurried life is a recipe for stress and chronic disease. Click To Tweet

After 25 years of accumulating data on sleep’s effects on human health, a recently published study delves deeper into sleep’s impacts on morbidity and mortality. Aging puts you at a greater risk of chronic diseases, explaining why older adults are the most vulnerable. According to the study led by researchers at University College London and Université Paris Cité, mid-to-older-aged adults are less likely to develop a chronic disease when getting seven to eight hours of sleep—compared to those who sleep for five hours or less. 

The Whitehall II study involved women and men between the ages of 50-70. Participants were tasked with reporting the amount of sleep they got in a series of clinical examinations. Testing more than 7,000 adults over 25 years (with exams every four to five years), researchers analyzed the link between sleep duration, mortality, and participants’ pre-existing chronic conditions—including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. 

The results revealed that 50-year-old participants were 20 percent more likely to have a pre-existing chronic disease, and had a 40 percent higher chance of getting diagnosed with two or more chronic diseases when they slept for five hours or less.  

Those who maintained a seven-hour sleep duration had a lower probability of getting or having a chronic disease. In terms of multimorbidity, or the co-occurrence of two or more chronic diseases in one person, the 50-70-year-old participants who slept for less than five hours had a 30-40 percent higher risk of multimorbidity.

As the researchers continued their analysis, they found that sleep duration totaling five hours or less correlates with a 25 percent higher mortality risk at age 50. The connection simply boils down to cause and effect, suggesting that sleep deprivation increases the risk of chronic disease, which then increases the risk of mortality.

The connection simply boils down to cause and effect, suggesting that sleep deprivation increases the risk of chronic disease, which then increases the risk of mortality. Click To Tweet

The study further suggested that sleep duration on the other end of the spectrum, which is nine hours or more, doesn’t make much of an impact on one’s health outcomes if they’re already healthy. There wasn’t a direct association between longer sleep and multimorbidity for the healthier middle-aged participants. For those with underlying health conditions already affecting sleep, however, longer sleep duration can result in a 35 percent higher risk of multimorbidity.

You should note that this study has limitations. The results are based on self-reported sleep data from its participants. All of the participants were civil servants in London. Most were white males, a third were white women, and only a small number of participants were non-white. To weigh the effects of sleep on life expectancy, our longevity experts always keep their eyes peeled for additional research. In this article, we shared a study revealing that adequate sleep strengthens immunity and helps lower the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. 

The recommended amount of daily sleep is seven to eight hours for older adults, but according to the CDC, a third of American adults fail to meet this criterion. The data suggests that most get less than seven hours of sleep each day. For your body to fight off and prevent certain chronic diseases, optimal sleep is a must. 

[Related: Set Up Your Bedroom for Optimal Sleep]

To shed stress and lower the risk of heart disease, centenarians in blue zones regions ensure that they get seven to nine hours of rest. They also nap frequently throughout the week. Research further indicates that rest is vital for reawakening our brains and bodies.

To shed stress and lower the risk of heart disease, centenarians in blue zones regions ensure that they get seven to nine hours of rest. Click To Tweet

A key to good sleep hygiene is adopting habits that promote optimal sleep duration, such as going screen-free in the evenings, having a cut-off time for meals, and “setting the mood” in your bedroom with the right temperature and lighting. How you spend the day can also affect your sleep quality. For instance, studies indicate that sunlight exposure improves sleep.

Getting plenty of good rest can not only give us the energy we need to show up as our best selves, but it also equips us to dodge disease and early mortality later on in life. Just ask the centenarians who reached 100 years of age with similar simple habits.

Getting plenty of good rest can not only give us the energy we need to show up as our best selves, but it also equips us to dodge disease and early mortality later on in life. Click To Tweet

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