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Sleep deprivation shortens men's lifespan

Men probably live longer if they sleep enough hours per day. However, women seem to be more resistant to a lifestyle with a chronic sleep deprivation, epidemiologists from University College London write in PLoS One.

Sleep deprivation shortens men's lifespan

Sleep & longevity
There is a direct link between sleep and your life expectancy. If your sleep quality is better, you can count on a longer life, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh. Greek researchers have reported that people who take a short siesta every day are more likely to reach a fabulously old age.

Scientists have several theories to explain the link between sleep and longevity. A possible explanation is that a lifestyle with sufficient sleep ensures a well-functioning immune system.

Some scientists suspect that they can see how many years you can still live in the genetic material of your cells. The longer your telomeres [see them below] are at the ends of your chromosomes, the longer you could theoretically live. And vice versa, the shorter those telomeres are, the faster your cells wear and the sooner you may die.

One factor that shortens your telomeres is stress, while habits like drinking green tea, a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, or meditation help keep your telomeres long.

Sleep deprivation shortens men's lifespan

The British determined the length of the telomeres of 434 men and women with an average age of 63 years. The researchers knew how many hours the study participants slept per day.

Initially, the British saw no effect of the amount of sleep on telomere length. But when they statistically corrected their data for age, BMI, smoking, education, unemployment, hostility and depressive symptoms, they suddenly saw the connection.

Well, the men, not the women. In the women, the researchers found no statistically significant relationship between telomere length and the amount of sleep.

Dark colored bars = men, light colored bars = women.

Sleep deprivation shortens men's lifespan

"We report for the first time that short sleep duration in healthy older men is associated with shorter telomere length", write the researchers.

"Longitudinal studies are needed to establish whether shorter sleep leads to accelerated telomere shortening and advanced cellular aging."

PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47292.

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