Background: Insomnia symptoms are associated with vulnerability to age-related morbidity and mortality. Cross-sectional data suggest that accelerated biological aging may be a mechanism through which sleep influences risk. A novel method for determining age acceleration using epigenetic methylation to DNA has demonstrated predictive utility as an epigenetic clock and prognostic of age-related morbidity and mortality.
Methods: We examined the association of epigenetic age and immune cell aging with sleep in the Women's Health Initiative study (N = 2078; mean 64.5 ± 7.1 years of age) with assessment of insomnia symptoms (restlessness, difficulty falling asleep, waking at night, trouble getting back to sleep, and early awakenings), sleep duration (short sleep 5 hours or less; long sleep greater than 8 hours), epigenetic age, naive T cell (CD8+CD45RA+CCR7+), and late differentiated T cells (CD8+CD28-CD45RA-).
Results: Insomnia symptoms were related to advanced epigenetic age (β ± SE = 1.02 ± 0.37, p = .005) after adjustments for covariates. Insomnia symptoms were also associated with more late differentiated T cells (β ± SE = 0.59 ± 0.21, p = .006), but not with naive T cells. Self-reported short and long sleep duration were unrelated to epigenetic age. Short sleep, but not long sleep, was associated with fewer naive T cells (p < .005) and neither was related to late differentiated T cells.
Conclusions: Symptoms of insomnia were associated with increased epigenetic age of blood tissue and were associated with higher counts of late differentiated CD8+ T cells. Short sleep was unrelated to epigenetic age and late differentiated cell counts, but was related to a decline in naive T cells. In this large population-based study of women in the United States, insomnia symptoms are implicated in accelerated aging.
Keywords: Aging; Epigenetic; Immunosenescence; Insomnia; Methylation; Sleep.
Copyright © 2016. Published by Elsevier Inc.