British researchers have shown that people who regularly sleep much more or much less than the average are more likely to develop pulmonary fibrosis, compared with those who rested seven hours a night.
This study, carried out by researchers from the University of Manchester, took into account 500,074 participants followed within the framework of the UK Biobank cohort, which includes the genomic data of more than half a million British residents.
After finding that altering the biological clock in mice could make rodents more likely to develop pulmonary fibrosis, the researchers wanted to see if sleep patterns (circadians) could be linked to disease in humans.
Pulmonary fibrosis is an incurable disease of the lungs that occurs when the tissues of the lungs are damaged and cause respiratory failure. The thicker the lung tissue, the more difficult the lung function becomes. This disease can be caused by many factors, and causes the death of around 5,000 people a year in the UK, the equivalent of deaths from leukemia.
The results of this recent study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that after taking into account known risk factors for pulmonary fibrosis, such as body mass index, tobacco use, age and gender, participants who reported regular sleep for four hours or less per night were twice as likely to develop the disease, while those who slept 11 hours or more per night tripled their risk of disease compared to those who rested seven hours per night.
Working at night and having a nighttime chronotype (being more in the evening than in the morning) was also associated with the disease, but to a lesser extent.
The researchers noted that the link between sleep duration and pulmonary fibrosis was similar to other known risk factors. They attribute the association to the circadian rhythms which regulate the cells of the human body and which is the motor of many biological phenomena such as sleep, hormone secretion … Their previous work had shown that the lungs were a very linked organ circadian rhythms and that its responses to its environment are regulated by circadian rhythms.
Dr. John Blaikley, in charge of this project, said that “pulmonary fibrosis is a devastating disease that is currently incurable. Therefore discovering that the biological clock could potentially play a key role could open up new ways of treatment and disease prevention. More research will be needed to study the association between pulmonary fibrosis and sleep duration to establish both the cause and reproducibility. If these results are confirmed, then sleep duration optimal could reduce the impact of this devastating disease. “