Is DNA the missing link between sleep and health?

Research Summary
By: 
Hayley Roper
Research Assistant

A recent study found that a lack of sleep may increase the damage to our DNA.

DNA damage is normal and occurs as a result of day-to-day functioning in all humans. Fortunately, DNA repair is also constantly responding to this damage. Dr. Siu-Wai Choi and colleagues found that doctors who worked overnight had more DNA damage and less DNA repair compared to doctors who did not work overnight.

When DNA repair stops working, or a cell in our body has a lot of DNA damage, the cell can no longer carry out its normal function. This increases the chances of chronic disease, including cancer and heart disease.

It is known that poor sleep contributes to negative health outcomes. Dr. Choi suggests that DNA damage may help explain how this happens.