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Sleep and Genes

We know that sleep problems are related to a whole list of health problems including diabetes, heart disease, immune function, depression and cognitive issue – we just don’t know exactly why.

Scientists may be closer to figuring out the “why”. It turns out that insufficient sleep can significantly disrupt and inhibit normal gene activity. This can occur with hundreds of different genes that affect broad biological functions like our metabolism, immune system, inflammation and stress levels.

Scientists at the University of Surrey in England conducted a small study and found that a week of low sleep changed the activity of more than 700 genes! Many of our genes have activity levels that change with our circadian clock, that is our body’s internal 24 hour clock, and a week of low sleep reduced the number of genes that changed during the day from 1855 to 1481.

Disrupted sleep is strongly associated with diseases such as obesity, meabolic syndrome and diabetes. Some studies have shown that sleep problems can predict whether or not someone will develop metabolic syndrome.

One common reason for disrupted sleep is obstructive sleep apnea. The loud snoring and stoppages of breath while sleeping guarantee that the sleeper will never get a full night of restful sleep (and neither will their bed partner).

Find out more about diagnosing and treating obstructive sleep apnea by contacting Columbus sleep apnea dentist Dr. Mark Levy today at 614-476-6696.