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The face on an old Chinese woman

A China Kadoorie Biobank study published in BMC Medicine has reported a direct link between a healthy sleep pattern and a reduced risk of frailty among Chinese adults.

Frailty reflects the possibility of injury or disease when the body is subjected to a harmful event. Frailty worsens with physical aging and gets better with recovery from disease or recovery of physical function. Sleep problems e.g. sleep duration under 7-8 hours/day, insomnia and snoring, are becoming more prevalent among middle-aged people. Compared with the elderly, sleep problems among young and middle-aged people are more likely to cause damage to physical functions, leading to worsening frailty. This study explored the association between sleep patterns and changes in frailty in middle-aged and elderly people.

The study used the baseline and two-repeated survey data of the CKB, involving a total of 23,847 subjects to identify and categorise healthy sleep patterns and compared these with changes in the associated frailty status over time. The results showed that maintaining a healthy sleep duration, staying free of insomnia and staying free of snoring was associated with a reduced risk of worsening frailty status while also increasing the likelihood that an individual's frailty status would improve over time. There was a clear dose-response relationship for these associations. These findings suggest that maintaining healthy sleep patterns is important for improving health status.