Research continues to prove that lack of sleep is linked to many chronic diseases.
What is something many people want but most don’t get enough of? Sleep is a popular answer to that question. Most people crave sleep and look forward to a good night of rest. Unfortunately, many don’t get nearly enough sleep as they should. Getting enough sleep is an important factor in living a healthy lifestyle but it is usually the first thing people cut out of their lives when they are busy.
There is a saying, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. This is definitely bad advice and would never be recommended by a healthcare provider. There have been several studies done and articles written that all conclude that a lack of sleep will negatively affect your health in a variety of ways.
A new research study again continues to prove that good sleep is essential to human health. The research team investigated the relationship between sleep and chronic diseases. They found that people over the age of fifty years old that get less than five hours of sleep a night are at greater risk of developing multiple chronic diseases.2
Multimorbidity is a term that refers to someone who has multiple health conditions at once. This makes medical management more difficult. People who have two or more health conditions tend to use healthcare resources more often which puts more strain on the healthcare system. Their medical management is more complicated and sometimes requires several different specialists.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) patients with multimorbidities are at a greater risk of safety issues due to,
- Polypharmacy leading to possible medication errors and interactions
- Complex medical management
- More frequent use of healthcare services
- Greater chance of healthcare failures
- Demanding medical management needs
- Greater vulnerability to safety concerns
- Possible physical or mental impairments due to health conditions1
The research team studied data from self-reported questionnaires from a cohort of participants who were surveyed when they were 50 years old, 60 years old, and 70 years old. When the participants were 50 years, those who slept less than five hours a night were at a 30% greater risk of developing multiple chronic medical conditions. By age 60, the participants who slept less than 5 hours a night had a 32% greater risk of developing multiple chronic medical conditions. By age 70 years old, the participants who slept less than 5 hours a night had a 40% greater chance of developing multiple chronic medical conditions. The shorter amount of sleep at age 50 was linked with a 25% greater risk of death due to the risk of chronic disease.2
Director of the Center for Translational Sleep and Circadian Sciences, Dr. Girardin Jean-Louis told Healthline, “Multimorbidity has remained a daunting challenge, associated with high healthcare costs, including routine clinic visits, hospitalizations, and potential disability…If it can be shown that improved sleep duration and quality could alleviate this medical and societal burden, this could benefit us all.”2
Older adults often suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia, snoring, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome which can decrease the quality and duration of sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping see your primary care doctor. They will be able to offer advice and refer you to a sleep specialist if needed. Start keeping a sleep journal to track how much sleep you are getting and to analyze any factors that may be affecting your sleep. Don’t give up on getting good sleep, it is important to your health and well-being.
- Multimorbidity – World Health Organization. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/252275/9789241511650-eng.pdf
- Schimelpfening, N. (2022, October 18). Less than 5 hours sleep per night raises dementia, diabetes risks. Healthline. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/less-than-5-hours-sleep-per-night-may-raise-dementia-diabetes-risks