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How much can an extra hour's sleep change you?


Stashed in: Sleep!, #health, Diabetes, Health Studies, Cancer

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Dr Simon Archer and his team at Surrey University were particularly interested in looking at the genes that were switched on or off in our volunteers by changes in the amount that we had made them sleep.

"We found that overall there were around 500 genes that were affected," Archer explained. "Some which were going up, and some which were going down."

What they discovered is that when the volunteers cut back from seven-and-a-half to six-and-a-half hours' sleep a night, genes that are associated with processes like inflammation, immune response and response to stress became more active. The team also saw increases in the activity of genes associated with diabetes and risk of cancer. The reverse happened when the volunteers added an hour of sleep.

So the clear message from this experiment was that if you are getting less than seven hours' sleep a night and can alter your sleep habits, even just a little bit, it could make you healthier. "Have a lie-in, it will do you good" - that's the kind of health message that doesn't come along very often.

3 cheers for getting extra sleep!