A British study concludes that the risk of developing chronic diseases increases significantly below five hours of sleep per night after the age of 50.
To sleep less than five hours is to expose oneself to a notable deterioration in one’s health from the age of 50. While it is not dangerous to sleep a little less (or a little more) than the seven to eight hours recommended in adults by specialists, falling below the five hour threshold is associated with an accumulated development of chronic diseases. past forty, according to the conclusions of several researchers published in the American scientific journal Plos Medicine.
People who sleep less than five hours a night are 30% more likely to develop at least two chronic diseases after the age of 50 compared to those who slept between seven and eight hours. The most frequently declared diseases are the different types of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Up to 40% higher risk at age 70
This proportion of 30% is an average of the results obtained at the ages of 50, 60 and 70 included in the database. In detail, people aged 50 who slept on average less than five hours a night were 25% more likely to develop chronic diseases compared to people of the same age who slept between seven and eight hours a night. For 60 year olds, the excess risk is 32% and it rises to 40% at 70 years old.
People who sleep longer than eight hours also have a higher risk of developing chronic diseases – in particular because their sleep may be of poorer quality – but this proportion is lower than that of those who sleep less than five hours.
The researchers who conducted the study specify that the age populations compared were compared without other risk factors such as smoking, poor nutrition, low physical exercise or even genetic predispositions being fairly represented. Another limitation: the data collected is based on the declarations of the subjects without additional checks and analyzes by the scientists.
These results are based on the reading of health and sleep data from nearly 8,000 Britons, grouped in the Whitehall II cohort. They were collected over 25 years, stored and analyzed by researchers. The data collected from this cohort relate to the health and socio-economic profiles of individuals, in an attempt to establish links between the two.
The importance of chronic disease monitoring
Scientists highlight the need to understand the relationship between sleep duration and chronic diseases in a context where the latter weigh more and more in the health expenditure of the countries affected and this part is expected to increase further in the years to come, according to French health insurance spies.
The institution explains that 168 billion spent for the care of more than 66 million patients in 2020, 104 billion had been for chronic pathologies, or 62%. A share that has been constantly increasing since at least 2015.