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Too Much or Too Little Sleep May Lead to Metabolic Syndrome

The amount of sleep you get could be affecting your health. A recent study suggests that fewer than six hours and more than 10 hours of sleep per day may be associated with metabolic syndrome, as well as the individual symptoms of metabolic syndrome.


Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that raise the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other diseases. These risk factors include central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism.


Participants in the study included 133,608 Korean men and women between the ages of 40 and 69 years old. They all took part in the HEXA study, which was a large-scale community-based study that took place in Korea between 2004 and 2013. The study included information on socio-demographic characteristics, medical history, medication use, family history, lifestyle factors, diet, physical activity, and reproductive factors for women. The researchers also collected samples of plasma, serum, buffy coat, blood cells, genomic DNA, and urine.  They also conducted physical exams of all the participants. Sleep duration was assessed via the question: "In the past year, on average, how many hours/minutes of sleep (including daytime naps) did you take per day?”


After examining the data, the researchers found that approximately 11% of men and 13% of women slept less than six hours and 1.5% of men and 1.7% of women slept more than 10 hours. Men who slept fewer than six hours per day were more likely to have metabolic syndrome and higher waist circumference than those who slept six to seven hours per day. Women who slept fewer than six hours were more likely to have higher waist circumference, when compared with those who slept six to seven hours per day.


On the other side, sleeping more than 10 hours per day was associated with metabolic syndrome and increased levels of triglycerides in men. In women, it was associated with metabolic syndrome, higher waist circumference, higher levels of triglycerides and blood sugar, as well as low levels of HDL (or “good”) cholesterol.


Researchers from Seoul University conducted the study. It was published on June 13, 2018, in BMC Public Health.


Some methods to try to improve your sleep include eating less high fat foods, eliminating “blue light” (such as the light from your phone) just before bed, eliminating caffeine before bed time, and increasing exercise levels.

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