New Study: Poor Sleep Disrupts Genes

Academia and mass media continued their convergence with the widespread reporting of new Surrey University research that concludes “getting too little sleep for several nights in a row disrupts hundreds of genes that are essential for good health.”

According to a recent report, tests on people who slept less than six hours a night for a week revealed substantial changes in the activity of genes that govern the immune system, metabolism, sleep and wake cycles—in addition to the body’s response to stress—suggesting that poor sleep “could have a broad impact on long-term wellbeing.”

Effects of insufficient sleep on circadian rhythmicity and expression amplitude of the human blood transcriptome
publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recent Feb edition.

The text of the study’s abstract specifically states “insufficient sleep and circadian rhythm disruption are associated with negative health outcomes, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive impairment.”

The changes, which affected more than 700 genes, may shed light on the biological mechanisms that raise the risk of a host of ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stress and depression, in people who get too little sleep.

“The surprise for us was that a relatively modest difference in sleep duration leads to these kinds of changes,” said Professor Derk-Jan Dijk, director of the Surrey Sleep Research Centre at Surrey University, in the Guardian report. “It’s an indication that sleep disruption or sleep restriction is doing more than just making you tired.”

Previous studies have suggested that people who sleep less than five hours a night have a 15% greater risk of death from all causes than people of the same age who get a good night’s sleep.

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