A new study has found that over-50s should be getting at least five hours of sleep a night if they wish to slash their risk of getting multiple chronic health problems. Those who slept longer during the night had significantly better odds of avoiding multiple different morbidities later in life, while those that had disrupted or shorter sleep – less than five hours – saw a massive jump in risk of chronic disease.
The research suggests that five hours could be a threshold value that older people should strive for if they want to remain healthy.
The researchers enrolled around 8,000 UK civil servants over the age of 50 who were free of multimorbidity (two or more long-term health conditions) and had been part of a 1985 study. They then performed analysis from the Whitehall II study results to look for links between sleep duration and chronic disease.
When compared to people getting seven hours of sleep per night, those getting less than five had a significantly – around 30 percent – higher risk of multiple morbidities. Out of the entire cohort, those with less sleep had a higher risk of developing a first chronic disease and a subsequently higher risk of then developing multimorbidity and dying.
The team suggest that we should all get around eight hours sleep in an ideal world, but if life has other plans, the new findings hint that five hours really should be the bare minimum.
The research was published in PLOS Medicine.