Association of Sleep Duration and Quality With Alterations in the Hypothalamic-Pituitary Adrenocortical Axis: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)

Castro-Diehl, Olga Cecilia; Roux, Ana V. Diez; Redline, Susan; Seeman, Teresa; Shrager, Sandi E.; Shea, Steven J. C.

Short sleep duration and poor sleep quality are associated with cardiovascular outcomes. One mechanism proposed to explain this association is altered diurnal cortisol secretion.
The objective of the study was to examine the associations of sleep duration and sleep quality with diurnal salivary cortisol levels.
This was a cross-sectional analysis using data from examination 5 (2010–2012) of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Actigraphy-based measures of sleep duration and efficiency were collected over 7 days, and salivary cortisol samples were collected over 2 days from participants aged 54–93 years (n = 600 with analyzable data).
Shorter average sleep duration (<6 h/night) was associated with less pronounced late decline in cortisol [2.2% difference in slope; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.8–3.7; P ≤ .01] and less pronounced wake-to-bed slope (2.2% difference; 95% CI 1.0–3.4; P ≤ .001) compared with longer sleep duration (≥6 h/night). Lower sleep efficiency (<85%) was associated with less pronounced early decline in cortisol (29.0% difference in slope; 95% CI 4.1–59.7; P < .05) compared with higher sleep efficiency (≥85%). Subjects reporting insomnia had a flatter cortisol awakening response (−16.1% difference in slope; 95% CI −34.6 to −0.1; P < .05) compared with those not reporting insomnia.
Shorter sleep duration, lower sleep efficiency, and insomnia are associated with alterations in diurnal cortisol levels consistent with changes in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal regulation.


Also Published In

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

More About This Work

Academic Units
The Endocrine Society
Published Here
April 19, 2016