Sleep disruption from shift work linked to serious health problems

The latest research studies on sleep, snoring and their related illnesses

Shift work could damage almost 1,500 genes – explaining why it has been linked to a range of health problems, a study shows. Disruption to the timing of sleep, also caused by jet lag, is feared to increase the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses.

The researchers found disrupting the body’s natural 24 hour cycle disturbed the rhythm of genes.

Doctors have been worried for years that our 24/7 culture could have unintended consequences for human health with more than four million people – 17 per cent of employees in the UK now working shifts. One study showed night shifts triple the risk of heart disease while mental health problems, cancer, depression, diabetes, obesity and strokes have also been linked to disturbed nights due to poor sleeping habits and heavy snoring.

Poor sleep linked to pain in older people

Older people who have non-restorative sleep may be more likely to develop widespread pain, UK researchers have found. The study, published in Arthritis and Rheumatology, also found that a range of other lifestyle factors among the over 50s may also increase the risk of developing widespread pain.

Muscle, bone and nerve pain is more common as people age, with up to 80% of individuals aged 65 and over experiencing pain every day. Widespread pain that affects multiple areas of the body – the hallmark feature of fibromyalgia – affects 15% of women and 10% of men over age 50, according to previous studies.

Further analysis found that a lack of restorative sleep was an important factor leading to the development of widespread pain. These people had responded positively to the question: ‘During the past 4 weeks did you wake up after your usual amount of sleep feeling tired and worn out?’

However, other lifestyle factors might contribute to the condition, too, the authors say. These include anxiety, such as money worries, memory impairment and poor physical health.

Even a little weight loss may ease Sleep Apnoea

Finnish researchers said losing as little as 5 percent of body weight seems to lead to significant improvement in the condition — in which breathing pauses frequently while people are asleep, resulting in disrupted sleep and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight is considered the most important risk factor for obstructive sleep apnoea and being moderately overweight increases the risk for obstructive sleep apnea tenfold. It has been estimated that around 70 percent of all patients with obstructive sleep apnea are obese.

Snoring & Heart Disease: New study shows the risks

Does snoring keep you or your partner up at night? Considering a new study showing the potential health risk between snoring and heart disease, you may want to take some action or in the worst cases discuss the issue with your doctor. According to the study, excessive snoring may cause thickening in the walls of carotid arteries, which are the arteries linking heart to brain.

913 patients ranging in age from 18 to 50 years old who did not have sleep apnoea were asked to fill out a survey on their snoring habits. From there, ultrasounds of the carotid arteries were done for each person. Comparisons were made of the thickness found in snorers compared to non-snorers and it found that, on average, snorers had a greater degree of thickening in their heart’s carotid arteries. It should be noted that everyone has some degree of thickness to the wall of their carotid arteries, but it found this value to be higher on average in snorers.

By John Redfern