Researchers say getting less than six hours of shut-eye increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 35 per cent compared to those who slept between seven and eight hours a night.
Lack of sleep raises the risk of atherosclerosis, which is a build-up of plaque in the body’s arteries that causes them to narrow and harden.
The team, led by the Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) in Madrid, says the findings show that changing patterns of sleep could be faster and cheaper than treating heart disease with certain drugs.
Previous studies have shown that lack of sleep raises the risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing heart disease risk factors such as glucose levels, blood pressure, inflammation and obesity.
Heart disease linked to insufficient sleep
4000 bank employees, with an average age of 46, who had no history of heart disease were thoroughly analyzed.
They were divided into four groups: those who slept less than six hours, those who slept six to seven hours, those who slept seven to eight hours and those who slept more than eight hours. The participants underwent 3D heart ultrasound and cardiac CT scans to look for heart disease.
Results of the study published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed people who slept fewer than six hours a night had a 27% higher risk in developing atherosclerosis – a buildup of plaque in the body’s arteries. People who slept between 7 and 8 hours presented no such problem.
Quality sleep could prevent heart disease
But it’s not just how much we sleep but how good our sleep actually is. Participants with a poor quality of sleep were 34% more likely to develop atherosclerosis than those who had a good night’s rest.
Quality of sleep was defined by how often a person woke during the night, and the frequency of movements during the sleep which reflect the sleep phases.
This is not the first study to suggest poor sleep or a lack of sleep could hurt your body. Three studies presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology last September found getting between six to eight hours of sleep a night could lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Meanwhile, a study published in April suggests when you go to bed is important. The joint study by researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom found people who stayed up later had a higher mortality rate than those who go to sleep early.
Too much sleep can also have its’ side effects
The study also suggested sleeping more than eight hours a night may be associated with an increase in atherosclerosis. While the number of participants who slept more than eight hours was small, the study found women who slept more than eight hours a night had an increased risk of atherosclerosis.
Alcohol and caffeine consumption were higher in participants with short and disrupted sleep, the study found. Although, many people think alcohol is a good inducer of sleep, but there’s a rebound effect. If you drink alcohol, you may wake up after a short period of sleep and have a hard time getting back to sleep. And if you do get back to sleep, it’s often a poor-quality sleep.
Snoring, waking up more tired than when you went to bed, your alertness isn’t what it used to be, you’re having memory-loss issues, and such other symptoms should definitely be checked out even you may think those are just some issues that’ll eventually go away.