The shorter sleep, the shorter telomeres: how sleep deprivation shortens life

Scientists at the National Heart Center of Singapore conducted a study that showed how sleep duration impacts telomere length. Telomeres are the end chromosomes: they protect the genes in the terminal DNA from damage. However, with each cell division, telomeres are shortened and the risk of damage to genetic material increases. One of the modern theories of aging explains age-related changes in the body by the shortening of telomeres. 

The study, conducted by specialists from Singapore, involved 482 people aged 21 to 69 years (average age 46 years). Information on the duration and depth of sleep was obtained using special trackers that monitored cardiac activity, as well as questionnaires. Before and after the study, the length of white blood cell telomeres, leukocytes, was measured. Different factors were taken into account when estimating the length, primarily the age of the participants. 

Scientists found that there is a correlation between the duration of sleep and the speed of telomeres' shortening. The slowest telomeres were shortened in people who slept about 7 hours a day, the fastest in those who slept less than 5 hours a day. Also, those who slept 9 hours or more per day had telomeres shortened faster than those who slept 7 hours or more per day. Thus, it was confirmed that regular "sleep deprivation" leads to a rapid shortening of telomeres, which can cause the development of age-related diseases, premature aging. 

Nov. 29, 2019, 11 a.m.

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