Lack of sleep can lead to obesity and heart problems

26 February 2013

As little as one week of bad sleep can 'switch off' genes and raise the risk of a number of illnesses including obesity and heart problems, a study has found.

The study, from the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey, suggests fewer than six hours' sleep a night deactivates hundreds of genes which play a crucial role in the body's process of self-repair and replenishment.

Sleep deficiency leads to a number of significant health conditions including obesity, heart disease, and cognitive impairment.

Derk-Jan Dijk, director of the Sleep Research Centre, said the findings give important clues on the possible molecular mechanisms linking sleep and overall health.

"This research has helped us to understand the effects of insufficient sleep on gene expression," he said.

"Now that we have identified these effects we can use this information to further investigate the links between gene expression and overall health."

A 2012 study by Sleepio found poor sleep can also lead to a number of emotional problems.

It found poor sleepers are seven times more likely to feel helpless, five times more likely to feel alone and twice as likely to suffer from low mood.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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