Those Who Get 5 or Less Hours Of Sleep Are At A Higher Risk For Multiple Chronic Illnesses

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Not getting enough sleep may lead to suffering from a disease and even early death. Yes, they say that lack of sleep that lasts for three months or more is what’s called chronic sleep deprivation or insufficient sleep syndrome.

If you think that you can live on five hours of sleep each night, then you need to think again. Although this happens for many, it puts them at a higher risk of developing multiple chronic diseases and perhaps, even early death. This was according to the most recent study made. The researchers saw how adults aged 50 and older and slept for five hours or less each night had a higher risk of developing several chronic diseases as opposed to those who got seven hours of sleep. The findings of the study were published last October 18 in the open access journal PLoS Medicine.

“Our study showed that sleep five hours or less is associated with 30 to 40 percent increased risk of onset of multimorbidity,” says lead author Severine Sabia, PhD, of Université Paris Cité, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), and University College London. The association was for each decade of life, whether sleep was measured at aged 50, 60, or 70, explained Dr. Sabia.

Experts have estimated that about 1 out of 3 Americans don’t get sufficient sleep. This was according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They said that adults get around seven hours per night are at an optimal health.

Now, it’s normal for many of us to have an off-day wherein we don’t get enough sleep. That doesn’t show long term health consequences. However, if this situation lasts for three months or more, this is already known as chronic sleep deprivation or insufficient sleep syndrome.

There’s a hallmark symptom that goes with chronic sleep deprivation. One is being oftentimes too sleepy during the day. You may also experience difficulty with concentrating, thinking and remembering. This is per the Sleep Foundation. Those who are always sleep deprived may also experience mood changes. This includes stress, anxiety, or irritability, and a general lack of energy.


4 in 10 Adults Have Had 2 or More Chronic Diseases

To further discover the link between sleep and the risk of developing multiple chronic diseases, investigators for the data from Whitehall II. This is a cohort study that was established in 1985 and they included those who were employed at the London offices of the British civil service.

Although sleep duration linked to individual chronic diseases, not much is shown with its relation to multimorbidity , which is the co-occurrence of two or more chronic conditions at the same time, as per the authors.

Most of the time, a chronic disease is something that lasts one year or more and one that needs constant medical attention and/or one that limits daily activities. Around 6 in 10 adults in the U.S suffer from a chronic disease, and 4 in 10 of them have two or more, according to the CDC.

The list of chronic diseases had been picked out from previous research on multimorbidity. Included in the list are diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, depression, dementia, other mental disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. While obesity and hypertension were part of the list, these were not looked into during the study.

Less Sleep Connected to Higher Chances of Multiple Chronic Diseases

Data was available on sleep duration for aged 50 for a total of 7,864 healthy adults and 32.5 percent were women. They reported their own sleep duration six times between 1985 and 2016, and researchers got data on how long they slept when they were 50, 60, and 70 years old on average.

They found the following links between sleep and suffering two or more chronic illnesses:

  • For those who were 50 years old, if they slept five hours or less, they had a 30 percent higher chances of multimorbidity.
  • For those who were 60 years old, if they slept five hours or less, they had a 32 percent higher risk.
  • At 70 years old, they had a 40 percent higher risk.
  • Shorter sleep once they hit 50 was also linked to a 25 percent greater risk of mortality, and generally because of its linked to a greater risk of chronic disease.

The data was compared to those who got seven hours of sleep or more.

The present study that came with proof from previous studies shows just how crucial sleep duration is for good health, especially for older folks, said Sabia.

“Sleep is important for the regulation of several body function such as metabolic, endocrine, and inflammatory regulation over the day, that in turn when dysregulated may contribute to increase risk of several chronic conditions and ultimately death,” she says.

As per the CDC, behaviors can also add to the risk of developing a chronic disease. Included here are tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and excessive drinking of alcohol.

The population that was studied came from the U.K., and 90 percent of them were white. This means that the findings need further confirmation that involves a more diverse population, as the authors of the study noted.


Sleeping Longer Seemed to Increase Risk of Multimorbidity in 60 to 70 Year-Olds

On the flipside, Investigators also saw how sleeping longer than 9 hours was linked to higher rates of multiple chronic diseases for those aged 60 to 70 years old.

While the number of adults that slept for that time duration was not much, only 122 participants, solid conclusions still can’t be made from this detail, explained Sabia. The longer sleep could be linked to the chronic diseases as well, as per the authors.

“Further studies shall examine the role of long sleep duration in a large study population,” said Sabia.


How to Improve Sleep

The CDC has provided tips on how to achieve better sleep at night so that you can enhance your overall health:

  • Try to sleep and wake up at around the same time on a daily basis.
  • Fix your bedroom in such a way that it’s is quiet and dark.
  • Make sure the temperature is set at a comfortable level.
  • Avoid eating large meals, smoking tobacco, and drinking alcohol hours before you sleep.
  • Make sure to get regular exercise. This means that you try to be physically active during the day so you can have quality sleep.