It's More Than Beauty Sleep

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Chronic illnesses may be associated with poor sleeping habits study suggests

October 9, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

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(dailyRx News) How much people sleep can have an impact on their health. However, the relationship between sleep duration and chronic diseases has not been well studied. A recent study was conducted to examine sleep duration in relationship to various illnesses.

The researchers found that participants who got too little or too much sleep were more likely to be obese or have frequent mental distress, stroke, heart disease and diabetes.

They concluded that, in addition to mental well-being and obesity, sleep cycles should be considered by physicians when evaluating patients with chronic illnesses. 

"Maintain a healthy sleep schedule."

Yong Lui, MD, of the Division of Population Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aimed to examine the effects obesity and mental distress had on sleep duration in relation to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The study consisted of 54,269 participants 45 years of age or older who completed a survey in 14 different states. The participants were divided into three groups. Short sleepers slept six hours or less, optimal sleepers slept seven to nine hours and long sleepers slept 10 hours or more.

About 31.1 percent of participants were classified as short sleepers, 64.8 percent were classified as optimal sleepers and only 4.1 percent were classified as long sleepers.

The researchers found that obesity, heart disease, frequent mental disorders, stroke and diabetes were more common in short and long sleepers in comparison to optimal sleepers.

Obesity did not increase short or long sleepers' risk for heart disease and stroke in comparison to optimal sleepers. However, obesity did affect whether short, optimal and long sleepers were more at risk for diabetes.

The authors of this study noted a few limitations of their research, including that it did not examine whether sleep duration was the actual cause of various illnesses or whether sleep duration was the result of various illnesses.

Furthermore, the research was based upon individual testimonies, making some of them susceptible to bias and error.

Despite these limitations, the researchers reported that this study provides good evidence that there is a link between chronic illnesses and sleep duration for adults 45 years of age or older.

"This is another study that points out the relationship between the quality and quantity of sleep and one’s physical and mental health.  The authors indicate that we cannot be certain as to whether the poor sleep is due to chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease, as well as psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety, but poor sleep has been shown to be the cause in several recent studies," Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, a leading national expert in sleep medicine, told dailyRx News.

“The results suggest that physicians should monitor mental well-being and body weight in addition to sleep health for patients with chronic disease,” the authors concluded.

This study was published in the journal SLEEP. The authors have indicated no financial conflicts of interest. This study was not an industry-supported study.