Although sleeping less than six hours a night is associated with significantly increased mortality, no study has looked at how volitional (non-experimental) and objectively-verified chronic sleep restriction (CSR) can increase the risk for tumor development. Our goal is to use an integrative “team science” approach to create a working model of the pathways through which ongoing objectively-assessed volitional CSR can increase cancer risk based on physiological, psychological and behavioral measures in women. This project follows up on previous work in our lab where we showed that CSR is associated with an increase in the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1β, and increases in the stress hormone cortisol- both of which are biomarkers that are known to increase cancer risk. Here, we will look at sustained changes in these biomarkers in both the morning and the evening. We will also include additional biomarkers of inflammation: IL-6 and C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and stress (alpha amylase). We will also test if CSR puts individuals at risk for cancer development through changes in psychological health, such as anxiety, depression, general mood disturbance, and perceived stress. In addition, our biomarker and psychological factors are known to influence each other and all of these factors are intricately connected to both sleep loss and cancer development.
For this reason, we will take the first steps to mapping out the complex nature and interactions of these factors as part of a CSR biological-behavioral cancer risk profile. This study will be the first of its kind to 1) show the effects of volitional and objectively-assessed CSR on physiological markers and measures of psychological health and health-risk behaviors and how these relate to overall health (psychological and biological), and 2) map the relationship amongst these factors to create a CSR biological-behavioral cancer risk profile.