Individuals with asthma usually have comorbid sleep disturbances, however, whether sleep quality affects asthma risk is still unclear.
The study, published in the access journal BMJ Open Respiratory Research, showed that people with poor sleep patterns and higher genetic susceptibility have an additive higher asthma risk.
Poor quality sleep can potentially double risk of being diagnosed with the condition.
Spotting and treating sleep disorders early on might lessen the risks, irrespective of genetic predisposition, the study showed.
“A healthy sleep pattern reflects a lower risk of asthma in adult populations and could be beneficial to asthma prevention regardless of genetic conditions,” said Professor Fuzhong Xue, from Shandong University, China.
“Early detection and management of sleep disorders could be beneficial to reduce asthma incidence,” he added in the paper.
The study defined a healthy sleep pattern as early chronotype; clocking up 7-9 hours of sleep every night; never or rare insomnia; no snoring; and no frequent daytime sleepiness.
For the study, the team drew on 455,405 UK Biobank participants who were between 38 and 73 years old when enrolled between 2006 and 2010.
Around one in three participants were classified as ‘high’ genetic risk (150,429) and another third (151,970) as ‘intermediate’ risk. The remainder were classified as ‘low’ risk.
Compared with those at low genetic risk, those with the highest risk were 47 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with asthma, while those with a poor sleep pattern were 55 per cent more likely.
But people at high genetic risk, who also reported poor sleep patterns, were 122 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with asthma than those with both a healthy sleep pattern and a low genetic risk.
In other words, they were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with asthma.
Further in-depth analysis on a smaller group of people indicated that a healthy sleep pattern might reduce the risk of asthma in those at high genetic risk by 37 per cent.
The association between sleep and asthma may be two-way, the researchers suggest.
“In theory, the immune response to inflammation could generate pro-inflammatory cytokines that result in cellular infiltration and airway inflammation, further increasing the risk of asthma,” they noted.
However, the researchers said, “this is an observational study, and as such can’t establish the cause.” (IANS)