Less than 7 hours of sleep per night is associated with transitioning to systemic lupus erythematosus

K. A. Young, M. E. Munroe, J. B. Harley, J. M. Guthridge, D. L. Kamen, G. S. Gilkensen, M. H. Weisman, D. R. Karp, D. J. Wallace, J. A. James, J. M. Norris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: The role of sleep in the etiology of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has not been well studied. We examined whether sleep duration was associated with subsequent transitioning to SLE in individuals at risk for SLE. Methods: Four hundred and thirty-six relatives of SLE patients who did not have SLE themselves at baseline were evaluated again an average of 6.3 (± 3.9) years later. Fifty-six individuals transitioned to SLE (≥ 4 cumulative American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria). Sleep duration, medication use and medical history were assessed by questionnaire; ACR criteria were confirmed by medical record review. Vitamin D was measured by ELISA. Generalized estimating equations, accounting for correlation within families, assessed associations between baseline sleep and the outcome of transitioning to SLE. Results: Reporting sleeping less than 7 hours per night at baseline was more common in those who subsequently transitioned than those who did not transition to SLE (55% versus 32%, p = 0.0005; OR: 2.8, 95% CI 1.6–4.9). Those who transitioned to SLE were more likely to sleep less than 7 hours per night than those who did not transition to SLE adjusting for age, sex and race (OR: 2.8, 95% CI 1.6–5.1). This association remained after individual adjustment for conditions and early symptoms that could affect sleep, including prednisone use, vitamin D deficiency and number of ACR criteria (OR: 2.0, 95% CI 1.1–4.2). Conclusion: Lack of sleep may be associated with transitioning to SLE, independent of early clinical manifestations of SLE that may influence sleep duration. Further evaluation of sleeping patterns and biomarkers in at-risk individuals is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1524-1531
Number of pages8
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • SLE
  • depression
  • environmental factors
  • pre-clinical disease
  • sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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