According to the findings of the researchers, published in Experimental Physiology, tied sleeplessness to changes in the blood levels of micro RNA, MiRNA, non-coding molecules that help regulate protein expression.
The researchers collected blood samples from 24 healthy participants whose ages fell between 44 and 62 years, who also provided information about their sleeping habits. About half of the participants reported sleeping seven and 8.5 hours per night, while the rest said they only slept for five or six hours per night.
The researchers found that the participants, who slept for less than seven hours per night, had blood levels of three key circulating miRNAs — miR-125A, miR-126, and miR-146a — that were 40 to 60 per cent lower than those of their peers who slept for seven or eight hours. These three miRNAs, the researchers noted, suppressed the expression of pro-inflammatory proteins.