Physical activity neutralized the deadly effects of sleep deprivation
(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists tested how physical activity and quality sleep together affect the risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Lack of sleep or, conversely, its excess is associated with a shorter life expectancy. At the same time, “perfect” sleep, as previous studies have shown , can reduce the risk of premature death.
However, Chinese scientists from the Guangdong Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, Guangzhou Medical University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong have figured out how to counteract some of the negative effects of a poor night’s rest.
It turns out that physical activity can help.
“Physical activity and sleep are the main components of lifestyle, occupying a 24-hour life cycle. Maintaining a sufficient level of physical activity and healthy sleep are essential to increase life expectancy.
Physical activity is known to be beneficial in reducing the risk of premature death by up to 70%.
On the other hand, there is growing evidence that lack of sleep or too much sleep significantly increases the risk of death in a U- or J-shaped pattern.
Time spent in physical activity and sleep are interrelated. But it’s unclear how physical activity might interact with sleep duration for health promotion,” the study authors explained.
They analyzed data from British Biobank participants: a total of 92,221 people who wore wrist accelerometers to measure activity levels from February 2013 to December 2015.
The average age of the subjects was 62.4 years, 52,018 (56.4%) of them were women. The majority – 73.2% – noted a normal sleep duration of six to eight hours, 19.7% slept too long (over eight hours), and 7.1% suffered from lack of sleep (less than six hours). More than a third of the participants (33.4%) were physically inactive.
The researchers also took into account age, gender, nationality, level of education, time of year when the accelerometer was used, socioeconomic deprivation of the individual, body mass index, nutrition, bad habits, work, and the presence of cardiovascular disease, cancer or diabetes.
Over seven years of observation, 3080 deaths from all causes were recorded: in particular, 1074 (1.16%) people died from cardiovascular diseases, and 1871 (2.03%) from cancer.
The researchers conducted three types of analyzes using Cox regression models to examine the combined effects of sleep duration and physical activity on mortality. With the help of sensitivity analysis, they additionally cross-checked their conclusions.
“Sleep duration has been associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, but not with cancer.
Compared to normal sleep, only its deficiency sharply increased the risk of death from all causes [risk ratio – 1.34) and from cardiovascular diseases (1.56),” the scientists said.
The lowest risk of death was noted in the group with a normal night’s rest and a high level of physical activity.
Its low level, combined with a lack of sleep or an excess of it, correlated with the highest risk of death: it was increased by 2.51 and 2.06 times, respectively.
With an average level of physical activity along with sleep for less than six hours or more than eight hours, the probability of death from all causes was already 1.63 and 1.10 times higher, respectively.
Moderate to vigorous physical activity protected against premature death.
If a person complied with WHO recommendations – about 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity – in this case, the risk of death from all causes fell to 1.06 with a lack of sleep and to 1.01 with an excess of it.
People who were more physically active than recommended had even lower odds of dying from all causes (hazard ratio, 0.67), cardiovascular disease (0.61), and cancer (0.73).
“Our population-based cohort study showed that physical activity and sleep duration are jointly associated with risks of all-cause death, cardiovascular disease, and cancer in middle-aged and older adults.
Thus, most of the negative effects of poor-quality sleep can be mitigated by increasing the level of physical activity or achieving at least the lower threshold of WHO recommendations, ”summed up the authors of the work.
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