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Volume 14 No. 12
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Long Sleep Duration, Insomnia, and Insomnia With Short Objective Sleep Duration Are Independently Associated With Short Telomere Length

Priscila Tempaku, MsC1; Camila Hirotsu, PhD1,2; Diego Mazzotti, PhD3; Gabriela Xavier, BsC4,5; Pawan Maurya, PhD6,7; Elisa Brietzke, MD, PhD6; Sintia Belangero, PhD4,5,6; Dalva Poyares, MD, PhD1; Lia Bittencourt, MD, PhD1; Sergio Tufik, MD, PhD1
1Department of Psychobiology, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; 2Center for Investigation and Research in Sleep, Department of Internal Medicine, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland; 3Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; 4LINC-Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Clinical Neurosciences, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; 5Department of Morphology and Genetics, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; 6Department of Psychiatry, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; 7Department of Biochemistry, Central University of Haryana, Mahendergarh, India

Study Objectives:

We aimed to determine the association between short telomere length, sleep parameters, and sleep disorders in an adult general population sample.


As part of the EPISONO cohort (São Paulo, Brazil), 925 individuals answered questionnaires, underwent a full-night polysomnography and clinical assessment, and had peripheral blood collected for DNA extraction. Insomnia was diagnosed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition; and obstructive sleep apnea was defined according to apnea-hypopnea index. For the objective insomnia phenotype, we combined insomnia diagnosis with total sleep time from polysomnography with a cutoff of 360 minutes, allowing the classification of six groups. Self-reported sleep duration was used to classify the individuals as short (< 6 hours), average (6 to 8 hours) and long (> 8 hours) sleepers. The leukocyte telomere length was measured using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Based on its distribution, we considered leukocyte telomere length < 10th percentile as short telomere and leukocyte telomere length ≥ 10th percentile as non-short telomere.


After adjusting for sex, age, and body mass index, only insomnia disorder (odds ratio [OR] = 2.654, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.025–6.873, P = .044), insomnia disorder total sleep time < 360 minutes (OR = 4.205, 95% CI = 1.097–16.117, P = .036) and long sleepers (OR = 2.177, 95% CI = 1.189– 3.987, P = .012) were associated with short telomere.


Our findings support the existence of an association among insomnia, insomnia phenotype, and self-reported long sleep duration with the maintenance of telomere length.


A commentary on this article appears in this issue on page 1975.


Tempaku P, Hirotsu C, Mazzotti D, Xavier G, Maurya P, Brietzke E, Belangero S, Poyares D, Bittencourt L, Tufik S. Long sleep duration, insomnia, and insomnia with short objective sleep duration are independently associated with short telomere length. J Clin Sleep Med. 2018;14(12):2037–2045.

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