According to a large Chinese study, good sleep hygiene defends everyone from the disease, regardless of the individual’s genetic susceptibility
of average en disturbed night’s rest
it is bad for your health with consequences for the correct functioning of the heart and brain and you risk experiencing heart attacks, strokes and dementias more frequently. It also increases the risk of diabetes and hypertension as well as the fact that those suffering from insomnia will feel perpetually tired with all that entails. Now a large new study based on the UK Biobank and published in the British Medical Journal Open Respiratory Research concluded that Poor quality sleep strengthens genetic susceptibility to asthma, potentially also doubling the risk of being diagnosed with the condition. On the other hand, enjoying a good night’s sleep significantly reduces the risk of developing asthma, a condition that affects over 300 million people worldwide, regardless of genetic predisposition. Reason why the team of Shandong University in China recommends in the conclusions
to treat sleep disorders early to limit asthma problems. The study, according to the same authors, is an observational work and as such it is not possible to establish that sleep can cause asthma. Furthermore, the research was carried out on people between the ages of 38 and 73: therefore, the entire age range involving children and young adults is missing.
People with asthma often report sleep disturbances: nocturnal awakenings, short sleep, insomnia. However, it has never been clear whether the same amount of sleep can influence the risk of asthma or whether good sleep hygiene can reduce this risk and the researchers wanted to investigate this aspect by evaluating 455,000 subscribers to the UK Biobank who were between 38 and 73 years old when they joined, between 2006 and 2010.
Participants were asked about their sleep patterns based on a number of parameters: chronotype (owl or lark)
, sleep duration,insomnia
, snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness. A healthy sleep pattern has been defined as being prone to larks (therefore not going to bed too late), sleeping 7-9 hours every night, suffering from insomnia only rarely or never, not snoring and not suffering from daytime sleepiness except sporadically . Based on volunteer responses, 73,223 people met healthy sleep criteria; 284,267 scored in between while 97,915 had poor sleep quality.
The genetic risk of asthma
All participants were ranked according to their genetic risk of developing asthma: high, intermediate, low. Participants’ respiratory health was monitored up to the date of asthma diagnosis, date of death, or March 31, 2017, whichever came first.
During the period of monitoring of just under 9 years17,836 people were diagnosed with asthma.
Compared with people at low genetic risk, those with the highest genetic risk were 47% more likely to be diagnosed with asthma, while those with poor sleep patterns were 55% more likely. Furthermore people who had both a high genetic risk and disturbed sleep were 122% more likely to develop asthma compared to those who did not have this genetic predisposition and slept well, or had a risk more than doubled.
These people were more likely to have potentially influential risk factors than those undiagnosed, including: low education levels, unhealthy sleep patterns, obesity, higher genetic risk scores for asthma, high alcohol consumption, and smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, acid reflux, increased exposure to pollution.
Sleeping better (still) reduces the risk of asthma
Further more in-depth analyzes on a smaller group of people have indicated that a healthy sleep pattern could reduce the risk of asthma by 37% in people with high genetic risk, 41% in those at intermediate risk, 44% in those with low genetic risk. Results suggesting how sleeping well could help offset the risk of asthma, regardless of genetic susceptibility.
In theory a low genetic risk combined with healthy sleep could result in 19% fewer asthma casesaccording to the researchers.
These results showed that healthy sleep could significantly reduce the risk of asthma in any genetic subgroup the researchers wrote. At the population level, they suggested, low genetic risk combined with healthy sleep could indicate that about a fifth of asthma cases could be prevented.
April 7, 2023 (change April 7, 2023 | 07:53 am)
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