Scientists who studied children’s telomeres, caps on the ends of chromosomes that shorten each time the molecule divides, found that the telomeres were shorter in children who got less sleep.
“Telomere length is 1.5 per cent shorter for each hour less that children sleep per night,” says James.
Short telomeres have been linked to cancer, heart disease and cognitive decline, but these children showed no signs of these diseases – probably because of their young age. However, they may have a higher risk of developing these disorders in later life, says James. “It raises concerns.”
Some research in adults suggests that too much sleep might be as bad for your health as too little. But in the children in the study, at least when it came to cell ageing, more sleep was associated with longer telomeres.
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