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Objectively measured sleep and telomere length in a population-based cohort of children and midlife adults

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posted on 01.01.2020, 00:00 authored by M T Nguyen, Kate LycettKate Lycett, T Olds, L Matricciani, R Vryer, S Ranganathan, D Burgner, R Saffery, M Wake
STUDY OBJECTIVES: Poor sleep patterns in older adults are associated with chromosomal telomere shortening, a marker of cellular senescence. However, studies have relied on self-reported sleep characteristics, with few data for younger individuals. We investigated whether sleep measured via actigraphy was cross-sectionally associated with telomere length in children and midlife adults. METHODS: A population-based sample of 1874 11-12 year olds and midlife adults (mean age 44 years, SD 5.1) had biological and physical assessments at centers across Australia in 2015-2016. Sleep characteristics, including duration, onset, offset, day-to-day variability, and efficiency, were derived from actigraphy. Relative telomere length (T/S ratio) was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction on genomic DNA from peripheral blood. Multivariable regression models estimated associations, adjusting for prespecified confounders. RESULTS: Both sleep and telomere data were available for 728 children and 1070 adults. Mean (SD) T/S ratio was 1.09 (0.55) in children and 0.81 (0.38) in adults. T/S ratio was not predicted by sleep duration (β 0.04, 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.02 to 0.09, p = .16, children; β -0.004, 95% CI -0.03 to 0.02, p = .70, adults) or most other sleep metrics. The only exception was a weak association between later sleep timing (the midpoint of sleep onset and offset) and longer telomeres in adults (β 0.03, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.06, p = .01). CONCLUSIONS: Objective sleep characteristics show no convincing associations with telomere length in two largely healthy populations up to at least midlife. Sleep-telomere associations may be a late-life occurrence or may present only with a trigger such as presence of other morbidities.








Article number



1 - 9


Oxford University Press


Oxford, Eng.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal