The association between sleep quality and telomere length: A systematic literature review

Debbie Sabot*, Rhianna Lovegrove, Peta Stapleton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
93 Downloads (Pure)


Several sleep parameters present an elevated risk for processes that contribute to cellular aging. Short sleep duration, sleep apnoea, and insomnia are significantly associated with shorter telomeres, a biological marker of cellular aging. However, there has been no review or analysis of studies that have examined the association between the psychological construct of sleep quality and telomere length. The present study aimed to provide a systematic review of the association between sleep quality and telomere length. A systematic review of English articles was conducted using MEDLINE/PubMed, PsycINFO, Google Scholar, and Web of Science electronic databases, with the final search conducted on 3rd September 2021. Search terms included sleep quality, poor sleep, insomnia, sleep difficulties, sleep issue*, non-restorative sleep, telomere*, cellular aging, and immune cell telomere length. Study eligibility criteria included human participants aged 18 years or older and a reproducible methodology. Study appraisal and synthesis were completed using a systematic search in line with a PICOS approach (P = Patient, problem, or population; I = Intervention, prognostic factor, exposure; C = Comparison, control, or comparator; O = Outcomes; S = Study designs). Twenty-two studies met review inclusion criteria. Qualitative synthesis of the literature indicated insufficient evidence overall to support a significant association between sleep quality and telomere length. Limitations across studies were addressed, such as the assessment of examined constructs. Findings highlight important targets for future research, including the standardised operationalisation of the sleep quality construct and experimental study designs. Research in this area has clinical significance by identifying possible mechanisms that increase the risk for age-related disease and mortality. PROSPERO Registration No.: CRD 42021233139.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100577
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity - Health
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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