People who suffer from sleep disturbances are at major risk for obesity, diabetes, and coronary artery disease, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Shown for the first time in such a large and diverse sample, analyzing the data of over 130,000 people, the new research also indicates that general sleep disturbance (difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and/or sleeping too much) may play a role in the development of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. The study is published online ahead of print in the Journal of Sleep Research.
“Previous studies have demonstrated that those who get less sleep are more likely to also be obese, have diabetes or cardiovascular disease, and are more likely to die sooner, but this new analysis has revealed that other sleep problems, such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or even too much sleep, are also associated with cardiovascular and metabolic health issues,” said Michael A. Grandner, PhD, research associate at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at Penn and lead author of the study.
The researchers examined associations between sleep disturbances and other health conditions, focusing on perceived sleep quality, rather than just sleep duration. After adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, and health risk factors, patients with sleep disturbances at least 3 nights per week on average were 35% more likely to be obese, 54% more likely to have diabetes, 98% more likely to have coronary artery disease, 80% more likely to have had a heart attack, and 102% more likely to have had a stroke.
The researchers say that future studies are needed to show whether sleep problems actually predict the new onset of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and whether treatment of sleep problems improves long-term health and longevity.