Sleep affects your telomere length – RevGenetics

Sleep affects your telomere length

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

All of these aforementioned psychological and behavioral stress factors have also been documented to cause telomere shortening to 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 contribute to the shortening of telomeres of our leukocytes (Journal of Aging Research 2011 October 20).

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The authors hypothesized that shorter sleep duration and quality would cause sufficient stress to shorten our telomeres in our leukocytes. The researchers aims were to document sleep duration and quality in healthy women between the ages of 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.

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 sleep your telomeres will appreciate it!

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