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Insufficient Sleep for Just a Week Enough to Disrupt Gene Activity

Update Date: Feb 26, 2013 03:50 AM EST

Just a week of sleeping for less than 6 hours a night is enough to disrupt the functioning of hundreds of genes, according to a new study.

Lack of good sleep has been associated with a number of other chronic conditions like stroke and cancer. Previous research published in the journal Obesity says that short sleep duration was found to be independently associated with weight gain among all age groups.  Another study published in American Journal of Epidemiology too links reduced sleep with modest weight gain in women.

Shorter duration of sleep makes people eat more, especially food that is high in fat. When people do not get enough exercise to use this extra food, they tend to store it in their bodies, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The latest study from University of Surrey has found that disturbed sleep can affect the activity of more than 700 genes in the body, which includes genes that control inflammation and immunity.

For the study, researchers monitored the activity of all genes in the human genome. The study also found that inadequate sleep was linked with a seven-time higher risk of gene activity disruption.

"This research has helped us to understand the effects of insufficient sleep on gene expression.  Now that we have identified these effects we can use this information to further investigate the links between gene expression and overall health," said Derk-Jan Dijk, director of the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey, according to a news release.

Over a quarter of all people living in the U.S. report having insufficient sleep, according to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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