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Inadequate sleep may shorten lifespan

Researchers in the United States (US) have found that deep sleep was essential for good health, and that too little of it could shorten life. According to their report published online in ‘JAMA Neurology,’ for every five per cent reduction in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, mortality rates increase 13 per cent to 17 per cent among older and middle-aged adults. REM sleep is when dreams occur and the body repairs itself from the ravages of the day. Lead researcher, Eileen Leary, said: “Numerous studies have linked insufficient sleep with significant health consequences.

Yet, many people ignore the signs of sleep problems or don’t allow enough time to get adequate sleep. In our busy, fast-paced lives, sleep can feel like a timeconsuming nuisance.” This study however, found in two independent cohorts that lower levels of REM sleep was associated with higher rates of mortality,” said Leary who is a senior manager of clinical research at the Stanford University in Palo Alto, Califonia. Also, this study couldn’t prove that poor REM causes death, only that it’s associated with an increased risk of dying early.

Dr. Michael Jaffee, who co-authored an editorial that accompanied the study said, this study shows that it is not just total sleep time that may be important, but assuring the right balance of the different stages of sleep, the ‘Newsmax’ reported. Jaffee, who is an associate professor of neurology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, said neurologists need to look for conditions affecting patients, such as obstructive sleep apnea, that can reduce REM, and doctors should also be aware that certain medications they prescribe can reduce REM.

“This study shows yet another reason for the importance of proper sleep time — recommendations for adults is seven hours — and a good balance of sleep stages by assuring that any possible conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, that can cause a reduction in REM be evaluated and managed,” he said. Jaffee urged anyone with difficulty sleeping or persons with loud snoring to discuss their condition with their physician. Leary and her colleagues included more than 2,600 men, average age 76, who were followed for a median of 12 years.

They also collected data on nearly 1,400 men and women, average age 52, who were part of another study and were followed for a median of 21 years. Consequently, they found that poor REM sleep was tied to early death from any cause as well as death from cardiovascular and other diseases.

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