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How is poor sleep affecting the health of Ontarians?

January 10, 2020

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A good night’s rest improves immune function, cognition and mood. Research led by Dr. Andrew Lim, a scientist in the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Research Program at Sunnybrook Research Institute, suggests, however, that many people in Ontario are struggling to get consistently the restorative shut-eye they need.

Lim is leading the Ontario Sleep Health Study, which aims to understand better how sleep disruption is affecting the health of Ontarians, and its links to conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. The study also seeks to highlight the impact of genes on sleep and circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle).

From 2014 to 2018, participants had their sleep and circadian rhythms tracked and measured using wearable devices. The measurements will be linked to health information from public health databases, as well as data and blood samples of the participants that were collected through the study.

Preliminary results show that about 30% of the study’s 3,200 respondents reported having trouble falling asleep more than a couple of times a week. Further, almost 70% of the respondents indicated they feel sleepy more than a few times a week. On average, participants said they slept just under seven hours a night; 20% reported getting less than six hours of repose, and 6% said they got less than five hours of sleep a night.

More than one-third of the participants were found to have a form of sleep apnea, a disorder in which a person’s breathing stops and starts during slumber. Lim discussed the study in an interview on CBC’s Metro Morning on Jan. 8, 2020.

In understanding better the relationships between genes, sleep, circadian rhythm disruption and health, Lim hopes the research will lead to the development of sleep-related interventions to prevent chronic diseases.

» Read the full story at CBC News