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Sleep affects your Telomere Length

Sleep affects your Telomere Length

anthony-loera anthony-loera
2 minute read

Telomere Length: Many studies have established that stress in your body can lead to a depletion of your immune cells. Unfortunately, our bodies must endure many forms of stress during our lifetime, ranging from psychological distress, poor diet, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle.

These aforementioned psychological and behavioral stress factors have also been documented to cause telomere shortening in our immune cells, the leukocytes.

In a recent paper, a group of researchers led by Elizabeth Blackburn published in the Journal of Aging Research that sleep deprivation also contributes to the shortening of telomeres of our leukocytes (Journal of Aging Research 2011, October 20). [1]

The authors hypothesized that shorter sleep duration and quality would cause sufficient stress to shorten the telomeres in our leukocytes. The researcher aimed to document sleep duration and quality in healthy women between 50-65 years and then measure the telomere length obtained from blood draws. The procedure followed divided the sleep patterns into fairly bad, fair, fairly good, and very good sleep. [2]

The difference in telomere length between fairly bad and very good was statistically significant. This study provides preliminary evidence that telomere length may provide a link between sleep deprivation and age-related diseases. Fortunately for all of us, sleep is a modifiable health behavior, so get a good night's sleep. Your telomeres will appreciate it!


  1. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0047292
  2. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0023462

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