A new study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, has found that sleeping badly can reduce your lifespan. But doing strenuous activity, including exercise such as running and going to the gym, may counter some of the adverse health effects.
The study analysed information provided by 380,055 participants with an average age of 55.9 years. Participants reported their level of physical activity and five aspects of their sleep over the course of 11 years.
Researchers found that, compared to healthy sleepers, people with poor sleep had a 23 per cent higher risk of premature death, a 39 per cent higher risk of dying from heart disease, and a 13 per cent higher risk of dying from cancer.
The data of people who slept well was then compared to those who slept poorly. Researchers discovered that, those who had the highest risk of dying from heart disease and cancer were those who had poor sleep – but also didn’t meet the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. That is, at least 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or at least 75 to 150 minutes vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise.
However, those who had poor sleep but did enough physical activity to meet recommended guidelines had less risk of dying from heart disease and cancer, compared to those who slept poorly and didn’t meet the physical activity guidelines.
Those who exercised regularly were therefore able to counteract the negative health effects.
Prof Mark Hamer, the study’s authors, said:
‘Poor sleep has been linked with metabolic effects such as disturbed glucose control. We know that physical activity has favourable effects on many metabolic pathways.’
However, it’s important to the note that the study was observational and it is therefore not conclusive that adequate physical activity causes the reduction of damage from poor sleep.
Even so, it’s potentially comforting news for runners who are struggling to get a good night’s kip.
You Might Also Like