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Sleep Med Rev. 2010 Aug;14(4):239-47. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2009.08.001. Epub 2009 Nov 6.

Problems associated with short sleep: bridging the gap between laboratory and epidemiological studies.

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Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology, Division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 125 S. 31st Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Existing data from laboratory studies suggest a number of negative consequences of acute reductions in sleep time. Also, epidemiological data suggest links between shorter self-reported sleep duration and negative health outcomes. These bodies of work are growing, revealing several key points of convergence and opportunities for future exploration. In addition, they begin to highlight possible problems experienced by "short sleepers," who sleep approximately 6h or less per night. While it is likely that this group is heterogeneous, comprised both of individuals with less need for sleep and those not sleeping enough, the laboratory and epidemiological findings point towards directions that can be more fully explored in verified short sleepers. This paper discusses problems associated with the terminology used to describe "short sleep," summarizes laboratory studies exploring neurobehavioral performance, metabolism and obesity, and psychological health and epidemiological studies exploring mortality risk, obesity and metabolism, cardiovascular disease, and general health/psychosocial stress, describes studies of verified short sleepers and explores areas of convergence, laying out possible future directions.

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