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Lack of Sleep In Your 50s Can Increase Risk of Chronic Diseases, Finds UK Study

The study found that those who got less than 5 hours of sleep per night were more suseptible to multimorbidities.

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Lack of sleep, especially in adults of over the age of 50 can lead to a slew of chronic illnesses, finds a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

The study specifically looked at the link between sleep duration at ages 50, 60, and 70 years and the risk of developing chronic illnesses.

The study, which involved a followup after 25 years, throws light on the vital role that sleep plays in physiological functioning of the body.

The researchers of the study concluded that those above the age of 50 who get less than 5 hours of sleep, have a 30 - 40 percent higher risk of developing multiple chronic diseases.
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Key Findings Of The Study

  • The study found strong linkes between short sleep cycles and multimorbidity, that is, having multiple chronic diseases.

  • Short sleep duration was not, however, linked to higher odds of death from these multimorbidities.

  • Sleeping for five hours or less in your 50s to your 70s was found to be linked to a 30 - 40 percent higher risk of developing multiple chronic diseases.

  • Short sleep cycles were associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases irrespective of the age at which sleep is measured.

  • A total of 6,546 participants were diagnosed with 1 of the 13 chronic diseases considered when the researchers conducted a follow-up 25 years later.

  • There is no clear evidence for an association between long sleep duration and an increased risk of chronic disease.

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How Was the Study Conducted?

To draw connections between lack of sleep and the possibility of developing multiple chronic diseases, the researchers analyzed the data of more than 7,000 men and women from the Whitehall II cohort study.

Sleep durations of people in three age groups of 50s, 60s, and 70s were noted via 6 data collection waves where the participants were required to answer the question "How many hours of sleep do you have on an average per night?” 

Following this, its association with multimorbidity over a 25-year follow-up was recorded.  

The quality of sleep that each participant was receiving was also examined.

Although the findings are significant, the study also has some drawbacks that must be considered. For one, the data collected was based on self reports by the participants.

Moreover, the study sample only included white participants, which means there's not enough evidence to suggest the same results would apply to people of other races.

However, the bottomline is that the researcher findings emphasises the need for good sleep hygiene, as well as promotes behavioral and environmental conditions that assist a good sleep duration and quality.

How To Improve Sleep Hygiene

Sleep deprivation can cause stress, poor memory, anxiety, and even poor decision-making ability. So here are some hacks and tricks that can help improve your sleep cycle.

  • Build a routine and try to stick to it every day.

  • Inculcate yoga and mindful meditation into your daily routine.

  • Reduce your screen exposure an hour before bed.

  • Switch off all harsh and bright white lights at night.

  • Do not consume caffeine at least 4 - 6 hours before bed time – instead, try switching to calming warm drinks like chamomile tea, or cardamom milk.

  • Avoid having sugary foods and snacks right before bed.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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