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expert reaction to study on association between sleep quality in adolescence and risk of multiple sclerosis

A study published in Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry looks at sleep during adolescence and risk of multiple sclerosis.


Prof Alastair Sutcliffe, Professor of General Paediatrics, UCL, said:

“It has been recognised for some decades that MS is a disease more frequent in the poles and less so at the equator with chronic vitamin D deficiency believed to be involved in the MS pathway.

“But what about sleep? The described study uses a proactive but weak method of assessment of sleep questionnaires for those with MS and selected controls from the general population. In my view, the authors have failed to account for recall bias here. While we know that poor and disordered sleep has implications for human health and adolescence is a time of important brain changes, this study is not able to tell us anything other than a weak association and as yet, I am not convinced.”


Prof Derk-Jan Dijk, UK DRI Group Leader, Professor of Sleep and Physiology and Director of the Surrey Sleep Research Centre, University of Surrey, said:

“A limitation of the study is that the results on sleep during adolescence are based on  ‘retrospective’ questionnaires, i.e. the participants reported on how they remembered their sleep was when they were 15-19 years old.  Prospective studies in which sleep is also measured objectively are needed to confirm these findings which are currently only observational. Thanks to wearables and contactless technologies for sleep monitoring such prospective studies are now within reach.,

“An important aspect of the current findings is that they show that it is primarily the duration and quality of sleep that are associated with this risk and that a difference between sleep timing during schooldays and weekends, which is sometimes referred to as ‘social jetlag’,  seems not to be associated with a higher risk for MS.”



‘Insufficient sleep during adolescence and risk of multiple sclerosis: results from a Swedish case control study’ by name of first author et al. was published in Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry at 23:30 UK time on Monday 23.

DOI: 10.1136/jnnp-2022-330123



Declared interests

Prof Alastair Sutcliffe: “No conflict of interest.”

For all other experts, no reply to our request for DOIs was received.

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