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Harms of poor sleep cut by greater exercise

Wednesday June 30th 2021

Researchers have found that the health impact of poor sleep may be mitigated by adequate physical activity.

Previous work had suggested that low physical activity could exaggerate the detrimental link between inadequate sleep and raised mortality. So, Dr Emmanuel Stamatakis of the University of Sydney, Australia, and colleagues examined the synergistic effect of physical activity and sleep quality.

They used information on 380,055 men and women from the UK Biobank, followed for about 11 years on average.

Physical activity was categorised as high, medium, low or no moderate-to-vigorous activity. Sleep was categorised into healthy, intermediate and poor using a composite of sleep duration, insomnia, snoring, and daytime sleepiness.

Most (56%) had healthy sleep, 42% intermediate quality, and 3% poor. Poor sleep was linked to being older, having a higher body mass index, having mental health issues, smoking and shift work, among other factors.

Analysis showed that sleep score was linked to all-cause mortality, as well as cardiovascular and ischaemic stroke mortality.

In the British Journal of Sports Medicine today, the authors explain that compared with participants with high physical activity plus healthy sleep, those with the lowest activity plus sleep scores were at a 57% raised risk of all-cause mortality.

Their risks of cardiovascular disease, any cancer, and lung cancer specifically were also raised, but stroke risk was not.

"The detrimental associations of poor sleep with all-cause and cause-specific mortality risks are exacerbated by low physical activity, suggesting likely synergistic effects," they report. "Our study supports the need to target both behaviours in research and clinical practice."

Huang, B-H. et al. Sleep and physical activity in relation to all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality risk. British Journal of Sports Medicine 30 June 2021 doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2021-104046

[abstract]

Tags: Australia | Fitness | General Health

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