Telomere Science Library

Publications, Presentations, and Videos
about the Nobel-Prize Winning Science of Telomere Biology

Telomere length is associated with sleep duration but not sleep quality in adults with human immunodeficiency virus.

Authors: Kathryn A KA. Lee, Caryl C. Gay, Janice J. Humphreys, Carmen J CJ. Portillo, Clive R CR. Pullinger, Bradley E BE. Aouizerat
Published: 01/01/2014, Sleep

Background And Study Objective

Telomere length provides an estimate of cellular aging and is influenced by oxidative stress and health behaviors such as diet and exercise. This article describes relationships between telomere length and sleep parameters that included total sleep time (TST), wake after sleep onset (WASO), and self-reported sleep quality in a sample of adults with chronic illness.

Design And Participants

Cross-sectional study of 283 adults (74% male, 42% Caucasian) infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) while living in the San Francisco Bay area, CA, USA. Ages ranged from 22-77 y.

Measurements And Results

TST and WASO were estimated with wrist actigraphy across 72 h; self-reported sleep quality was assessed with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Relative telomere length (RTL) in leukocytes was estimated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction assays. Shorter RTL was associated with older age, and RTL was shorter in males than females. RTL was unrelated to HIV disease characteristics. RTL was not associated with WASO or self-reported sleep quality. Participants with at least 7 h sleep had longer RTL than those with less than 7 h, even after controlling for the effects of age, sex, race, education, body mass index, metabolic hormones (i.e., leptin, ghrelin, adiponectin, and resistin), depression and anxiety, and sleep quality.


Results suggest that sleep duration is associated with preserving telomere length in a population of human immunodeficiency virus-infected adults. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night may either protect telomeres from damage or restore them on a nightly basis.

PubMed Full Text