Sleep and Disease Risk
Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety
Sleep deprivation research
Researching the Link Between Sleep Duration and Chronic Disease
The second type of research (called cross-sectional epidemiological studies) involves examining questionnaires that provide information about habitual sleep duration and the existence of a particular disease or group of diseases in large populations at one point in time. For example, both reduced and increased sleep duration, as reported on questionnaires, are linked with hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. However, cross-sectional studies cannot explain how too little or too much sleep leads to disease because people may have a disease that affects sleep, rather than a sleep habit that causes a disease to occur or worsen.
The third and most convincing type of evidence that long-term sleep habits are associated with the development of numerous diseases comes from tracking the sleep habits and disease patterns over long periods of time in individuals who are initially healthy (i.e.,longitudinal epidemiological studies). We do not yet know whether adjusting one’s sleep can reduce the risk of eventually developing a disease or lessen the severity of an ongoing disease. However, the results from longitudinal epidemiological studies are now beginning to suggest that this is likely.
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