A UK Biobank study published in the open-access journal of BMJ Open Respiratory Research states, “Poor sleep may increase a human’s genetic tendency to asthma, potentially to double their risk of being diagnosed.”
The researchers suggest that, regardless of genetic predisposition, early detection accompanied by treatment of sleep disorders may reduce asthma risk by promoting a healthy sleeping pattern.
Asthmatic individuals frequently report insomnia and interrupted or short-term sleep. According to the researchers, however, it isn’t clear if the quality of one’s sleep affects asthma risk or if following healthy sleeping habits can reduce this risk.
They used 455,405 UK Biobank participants between the ages of 38 and 73 when they signed up between 2006 and 2010.
Based on five specific characteristics, participants were asked about their sleep patterns: chronotype: early or late (‘morning lark’ or ‘night owl’); duration of sleep; insomnia; snoring; and excessive sleepiness during the day.
Early chronotype defined a healthy sleeping pattern; getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night; rarely or never insomnia; not a snore; and no excessive daytime drowsiness.
Around 73,223 people met the criteria for a healthy sleeping pattern based on their responses, an intermediate sleeping pattern 284,267, and 97,915 of them slept poorly.
A genetic asthma risk score was created for each of the 455,405 participants in this study based on the number of genetic variants in their genome that are associated with asthma. The genetic makeup of all participants in the UK Biobank is routinely mapped.
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