08:53am Saturday 04 April 2020

Less Than 6 and More Than 9 Hours of Sleep Associated with Chronic Diseases

Boston, MA – New research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and San Diego State University (SDSU) finds that the amount of sleep you get each night is an indicator of your chance for developing chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.  These findings are published online in Social Science Medicine.

“Seven to eight hours of sleep each night appears to be the ideal amount to maximize health benefits and minimize cardiometabolic disease risks,” said Orfeu Buxton, PhD, a researcher in the Division of Sleep Medicine at BWH and co-lead author of the paper.  “What we’ve done that’s new with this research is examine, in a nationally-representative sample, the relationship of sleep to four chronic conditions.”

Researchers analyzed data from 56,507 adults who participated in the National Health Interview Survey. After controlling for age, gender, education, income and other health behaviors such as smoking and exercise, researchers found that compared with sleeping between seven to eight hours per night, both short and long duration sleep were positively associated with an increase probability for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. 

“Obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are among the leading causes of death in the United States.  These findings emphasize the important role sleep plays in the health of Americans, and indicate that sleep may have a larger influence on these chronic diseases than diet or exercise,” said Enrico Marcelli, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Institute for Behavioral & Community Health Studies at SDSU and co-lead author of the paper.

Researchers caution that all data from this survey were self reported, which may affect the sensitivity of the findings.  They also emphasize that more longitudinal research and data collection about the sleep habits of Americans is needed to further define the role sleep plays in both health and disease, ways that it may impact public health, and how Americans can sleep better.  

This research was funded by a grant from the RWJ Health & Society Program, Harvard School of Public Health.

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