A recent study has suggested that those who get less than six hours sleep per night or who have a fragmented sleep pattern, have an increase in Atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a disease that is caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries, which carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart and other vital organs of the body. Plaque comprises of cholesterol, fat, calcium and other substances that over time harden the arteries and cause them to narrow. This in turn can lead to a number of complications such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
The PESA (Progression of Early Subclinical Atherosclerosis) study assessed 3,974 healthy adults who’s sleep patterns were monitored over a period of seven days via a waistband activity monitor, which kept a log of the participants quality and quantity of sleep. The average age of participants was 46 with 63% being male.
The participants were divided into five different groups depending on the average hours slept and whether their sleep was fragmented or not and atherosclerosis was tested using three-dimensional ultrasound equipment.
Adjustments were made for conventional risk factors of cardiovascular disease such as age, gender, BMI, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, cholesterol levels, calorie intake, blood glucose levels and more.
The results showed that those who were considered to be ‘short sleepers’ had significantly more atherosclerosis than those who consistently enjoyed seven to eight hours of unfragmented sleep per night.
Dr Fernando Dominguez, study author, of the Spanish National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) in Madrid, said: “Bad sleeping habits are very common in Western societies and previous studies have suggested that both short and long sleep are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, there is a lack of large studies that have objectively measured both sleep and subclinical atherosclerosis.”
Dr Dominguez said: “People who had short or disrupted sleep were also more likely to have metabolic syndrome, which refers to the combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, and depicts an unhealthy lifestyle.”
He went on to say that: “Failure to get enough sleep and restlessness during the night should be considered risk factors for blocking or narrowing of the arteries. Studies are needed to find out if sleeping well and long enough can prevent or reverse this effect on the arteries. In the meantime it seems sensible to take steps to get a good night’s sleep – such as having a physically active lifestyle and avoiding coffee and fatty foods before bedtime.”