Elizabethan author, Thomas Dekker, who once wrote that “Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” Medical research appears to agree; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Sleep Foundation, 35.2% of adults in the United States sleep less than seven hours a day. Stressful lifestyles, less exercise, and unhealthy eating can be significant reasons behind this. Many studies have supported the fact that sleep disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia, and interrupted sleep can be a significant risk factor for many diseases.
Recent research corroborates theories regarding the link between sleep disturbance and a range of conditions, including obesity. In the journal Nature Genetics, a group of scientists recently published evidence from a study that assessed lifestyle and environmental factors, in addition to inherited traits that affect sleep disturbance and duration—ultimately concluding that areas of the genome are linked to sleep disturbance. The team also discovered genetic links between higher levels of excessive sleepiness during the daytime, and increased measures of obesity: including body mass index and waist circumference.
While there have been previously observed connections between sleep disorders and conditions in epidemiological studies, these biological links have never before been identified at a molecular level. Dr. Martin K. Rutherr, clinical senior lecturer in cardiometabolic medicine at University of Manchester and one of the senior authors of the paper, discussed the ways in which this clinical science can help take ‘an important step forward.’ Read more