The Daily Telegraph

Seven hours’ sleep a night could reduce middle-aged health risks


MIDDLE-AGED people should get at least seven hours of sleep a night to reduce their risk of developing several chronic health conditions, including cancer, diabetes and arthritis.

Data on almost 8,000 Britons followed for 25 years shows that healthy people aged 50 are more likely to go on to develop multimorbi­dity if they only get five hours of sleep a night.

People who got five hours or less of sleep from the age of 50 were 30 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with numerous chronic diseases over the span of 25 years than those who got seven hours.

Sixty-year-olds who slept five hours or less had a 32 per cent greater risk while 70-year-old people who only got five hours sleep a night had 40 per cent elevated odds when compared with more restful peers.

The researcher­s looked at multimorbi­dity and investigat­ed the chance of a person developing at least two of a list of 13 chronic health conditions, including depression, liver disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Parkinson’s.

Based on the findings, published in the journal Plos Medicine, researcher­s led by UCL recommend getting between seven and eight hours of sleep every night.

Dr Severine Sabia, of the University College London’s Institute of Epidemiolo­gy and Health, and Inserm, Université Paris Cité, who is also a lead author on the study, said: “Multimorbi­dity (two or more chronic diseases) is on the rise in high income countries and more than half of older adults now have at least two chronic diseases.

“This is a major challenge for public health as multimorbi­dity is associated with high healthcare service use, hospitalis­ations and disability.

“As people get older, their sleep habits and sleep structure change. However, it is recommende­d to sleep for seven to eight hours a night – as sleep durations above or below this have previously been associated with individual chronic diseases. Our findings show that short sleep duration is also associated with multimorbi­dity.”

As part of the study, the researcher­s looked at self-reported sleep duration data from people aged 50, 60 and 70.

Around 7 per cent of people said they sleep just five hours a night, compared with one in three people who get six hours, almost half get seven hours and 15 per cent sleep for eight hours or more nightly.

Dr Sabia said: “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.”

The data also suggest that people aged 60 or 70 who sleep more than nine hours are more likely to suffer multimorbi­dity. But researcher­s say this may be because older people with existing disease need to sleep for longer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom