A new study by the Centres for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) links too little sleep (six hours or less) and too much sleep
(10 or more hours) with chronic diseases including coronary heart disease, diabetes,
anxiety and obesity in adults age 45 and older.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) encourages
patients suffering from these common chronic conditions to speak with a sleep
medicine physician who can evaluate their sleep patterns.
“It’s critical that adults aim for seven to nine hours of
sleep each night to receive the health benefits of sleep, but this is
especially true for those battling a chronic condition,” said Dr M. Safwan
Badr, president of the AASM.
“Common sleep illnesses including sleep apnoea and insomnia occur
frequently in people with a chronic disease and can hinder your ability to
sleep soundly. So if you’re waking up exhausted, speak with a sleep physician
to see if there’s a problem. If you are diagnosed with a sleep illness,
treating it could significantly improve disease symptoms and your quality of
“Some of the relationships between unhealthy sleep durations
and chronic diseases were partially explained by frequent mental distress and
obesity,” said study co-author Janet B Croft, PhD, senior chronic disease
epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Population Health. “This suggests that
physicians should consider monitoring mental health and body weight in addition
to sleep health for patients with chronic diseases.”
In the study, published in the Journal Sleep, short sleepers reported a higher
prevalence of coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes, in addition to
obesity and frequent mental distress, compared with optimal sleepers who
reported sleeping seven to nine hours on average in a 24-hour period. The same
was true for long sleepers, and the associations with coronary heart disease,
stroke and diabetes were even more pronounced with more sleep.
“Sleeping longer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sleeping
well. It is important to understand that both the quality and quantity of sleep
impact your health,” said Badr. “A healthy, balanced lifestyle is not limited
to diet and fitness; when and how you sleep is just as important as what you
eat or how you exercise.”
The study involved more than 54 000 participants age 45 or
older in 14 states. Nearly one third of participants (31%) were identified as
short sleepers, meaning they reported sleeping six hours or less on average. More
than 64% were classified as optimal sleepers, and only 4% of participants were
For more information, or to find a local sleep specialist at
an AASM accredited sleep centre, visit www.sleepeducation.com.