Researchers of a fascinating global study have found differences in the duration of sleep by geographical region, gender, and age. Among the 16 and 24-year-olds in the study, sleep time was delayed. However, the team found sleep was timed earlier in older participants. The study's findings were originally published in the journal Sleep Medicine.
For the study, researchers monitored the sleep patterns of close to 17,000 participants for a couple of weeks. The team used Polar Electro devices to measure sleep with accelerometers. Researchers were also provided personal information on each subject for the research.
"We gained an exceptionally diverse and extensive data set which provides important basic knowledge on sleep among different age groups across the globe. Validated consumer devices may hold the potential for investigations more comprehensive than those conducted with conventional data collection methods," Liisa Kuula, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, told a news portal.
People in Asia slept the shortest, while those in Europe and North America slept the longest, according to the research. The results also showed young women slept more and earlier than men. "Geographical differences were relatively small but similar to those seen in prior, smaller-scale studies. The need for sleep does not vary greatly between cultures, but differences arise in terms of the time reserved for sleeping," Kuula told a news portal. Adding, "It was interesting to find that the circadian rhythm shifts later even in people over 20 years of age. It was already previously known that sleep timing is delayed in adolescence. What was clearly highlighted in this study is how long into adulthood this actually carries on."
A Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study found poor sleep quality and short duration of sleep could increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease. "Our study found that among older adults, reports of shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality were associated with higher levels of β-Amyloid measured by PET scans of the brain," Adam Spira, study author and an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of Mental Health, told a news portal. Adding, "These results could have significant public health implications as Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, and approximately half of older adults have insomnia symptoms."
Another study found a healthy sleep duration can reduce the number of sick days one takes from work. "Optimal sleep duration should be promoted, as very long and very short sleep indicate health problems and subsequent sickness absence," study author Tea Lallukka, a specialized researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, told a news portal. Adding, "Those sleeping five hours or less, or 10 hours or more, were absent from work every year for 4.6 to 8.9 days more, as compared to those with the optimal sleep length."
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