According to researchers at University College London, getting less than five hours of sleep in middle-aged or elderly people is associated with an increased risk of developing at least two chronic diseases.
The research, published in PLOS Medicine, 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.
People who reported getting five hours of sleep or less at age 50 were 20% more likely to have been diagnosed with a chronic disease and 40% more likely to be diagnosed with two or more chronic diseases over 25 years, compared to people who slept for up to seven hours.
Researchers also found that sleep duration of five hours or less at age 50 was associated with 25% increased risk of mortality over the 25 years of follow-up.
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. 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.”
As part of the study, researchers also assessed whether sleeping for a long duration, of nine hours or more, affected health outcomes. There was no clear association between long sleep durations at age 50 and multimorbidity in healthy people.
Source: University College London
University College London. “Less than five hours’ sleep a night linked to higher risk of multiple diseases.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 October 2022. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221018220538.htm>.