Epidemiologic studies have consistently shown that self-reported sleep durations of <7 hr and >8 hr are associated with increased mortality and morbidity. The risks associated with short sleep are consistent with a vast experimental literature indicating detrimental effects of profound sleep restriction. However, there has been little study of chronic moderate sleep restriction, which is far more common, and thus more important from a public health standpoint. The risks associated with long sleep have scarcely been experimentally examined, though epidemiologic data suggest sleep restriction might promote health/longevity in long sleepers. Older adults might be more vulnerable than young adults to negative effects of further sleep impairment, perhaps particularly via inflammatory mechanisms. Negative effects might be at least as evident in long sleepers as in average sleepers if long sleep reflects underlying morbidity, as many have posited. On the other hand, older adults might tolerate (or benefit) from moderate sleep restriction. Older adults often tend to spend excessive time in bed (TIB), particularly long sleepers, and extra TIB could contribute to age-related sleep fragmentation and morbidity, which could be ameliorated with modest TIB restriction. In HL71560, older long sleepers (>8.5 hr/night) experienced no adverse effects of 8 wk of 90-min TIB restriction.
The aims of this expansion of HL71560 are: (1) to examine the ability of older long sleepers and older average sleepers to adhere to 60 min TIB restriction;and (2) to contrast effects of 12 weeks of 60 min TIB restriction on health-related measures in older long vs. average sleepers. The study should also provide genotyping and qualitative information about habits/beliefs about sleep in these groups. One hundred older adults (ages 60-80 yr) who report sleeping 8-9 hr per night and 100 adults of the same age range who report sleeping 6-7.25 hr per night will be examined at 4 experimental sites over 5 years. Following a 2-week baseline, participants will be randomly assigned to one of two 12-week treatment groups. (1) A sleep restriction group (n=60 long sleepers and n=60 average sleepers) will be assigned to a fixed sleep- wake schedule, in which time in bed is reduced precisely 60 min below each participant's baseline TIB. (2) A control group (n=40 long sleepers and n=40 average sleepers) will have no sleep restriction, but will also follow a fixed sleep schedule. Sleep will be assessed continuously with actigraphy and a daily diary. Questionnaires will be answered via a study web site. Measures will include body weight, glucose tolerance, sleepiness, depression, quality of life, psychomotor vigilance, incidence of automobile accidents, incidence of illness, and multiple markers of inflammation. Physical exams during weeks 2 and 6 of the intervention and a study ombudsman will further monitor potential adverse effects. Follow-up assessments will be conducted for 12 months. The proposed clinical trial will provide the most comprehensive Phase 1 assessment of risks and benefits of chronic moderate TIB restriction ever conducted.

Public Health Relevance

Higher rates of mortality have been found both in short sleepers (<6 hr/night) and long sleepers (>8 hr/night), but there has been little experimental investigation of the effects of chronic, moderate sleep loss in long or average sleepers. Some scientists argue that older adults might be particularly vulnerable to negative effects of sleep loss, whereas other scientists argue that many older adults spend too much time in bed, and that moderate reduction of time-in-bed could help increase the quality of their sleep, and could even promote health and longevity, particularly in long sleepers. At 4 sites across the US, we will conduct a large (200 people), randomized, controlled, 5-year study to examine whether a 1-hour reduction of time spent in bed for 12 weeks has negative or positive effects on multiple health-related outcomes, including inflammation, sleepiness, body weight, mood, glucose regulation, quality of life, incidence of illness, and incidence of automobile accidents in older long sleepers as compared to older average sleepers.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Cardiovascular and Sleep Epidemiology (CASE)
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Laposky, Aaron D
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University of South Carolina at Columbia
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United States
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