PublicationsFragmentation and stability of circadian activity rhythms predict mortality
Circadian rhythms and sleep patterns change as people age. Little is known about the associations between circadian rhythms and mortality rates. We investigated whether 24-hour activity rhythms and sleep characteristics independently predicted mortality. Actigraphy was used to determine the stability and fragmentation of the 24-hour activity rhythm in 1,734 persons (aged 45-98 years) from the Rotterdam Study (2004-2013). Sleep was assessed objectively using actigraphy and subjectively using sleep diaries to estimate sleep duration, sleep onset latency, and waking after sleep onset. The mean follow-up time was 7.3 years; 154 participants (8.9%) died. Sleep measures were not related to mortality after adjustment for health parameters. In contrast, a more stable 24-hour activity rhythm was associated with a lower mortality risk (per 1 standard deviation, hazard ratio = 0.83, 95% confidence interval: 0.71, 0.96), and a more fragmented rhythm was associated with a higher mortality risk (per 1 standard deviation, hazard ratio = 1.22, 95% confidence interval: 1.04, 1.44). Low stability and high fragmentation of the 24-hour activity rhythm predicted all-cause mortality, whereas estimates from actigraphy and sleep diaries did not. Disturbed circadian activity rhythms reflect age-related alterations in the biological clock and could be an indicator of disease.