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A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Telomere Length and Sleep in the Women’s Health Initiative

Telomere length is a heritable marker of cellular age that is associated with morbidity and mortality. Poor sleep behaviors, which are also associated with adverse health events, may be related to leukocyte telomere length (LTL). We studied a subpopulation of 3,145 postmenopausal women (1,796 European-American (EA) and 1,349 African-American (AA)) enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative in 1993-1998 with data on Southern blot-measured LTL and self-reported usual sleep duration and sleep disturbance. LTL-sleep associations were analyzed separately for duration and disturbance using weighted and confounder-adjusted linear regression models in the entire sample (AAs + EAs; adjusted for race/ethnicity) and in racial/ethnic strata, since LTL differs by ancestry. After adjustment for covariates, each additional daily hour of sleep beyond 5 hours, approximately, was associated with a 27-base-pair (95% confidence interval (CI): 6, 48) longer LTL in the entire sample. Associations between sleep duration and LTL were strongest among AAs (adjusted β = 37, 95% CI: 4, 70); a similar, nonsignificant association was observed for EAs (adjusted β = 20, 95% CI: -7, 48). Sleep disturbance was not associated with LTL in our study. Our models did not show departure from linearity (quadratic sleep terms: P ≥ 0.55). Our results suggest that longer sleep duration is associated with longer LTL in postmenopausal women.

Authors: Grieshober L; Kroenke CH; Ochs-Balcom HM; et al.

Am J Epidemiol. 2019 09 01;188(9):1616-1626.

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