According to a new study, grown-ups who do not get enough daily sleep may have beginnings of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which can evolve into heart disease.
Inadequate sleep is quite common these days, up to one third of the general population suffer from it. It can be either of insufficient durations or too much sleep, usually of poor quality.
A large number of studies have attributed inadequate sleep to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack, but there are other conditions like depression that could influence this association, said co-author of the study – Dr. Chan-Won Kim of Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine of Seoul.
Dr. Kim said that his team of researchers studied whether sleep of inadequate duration would be linked to early symptoms of heart disease in adults with healthy cardiovascular systems. More than 45,000 men and women with an average age of 42 participated in the study. They had to complete a questionnaire dealing with personal sleeping patterns and then had tests to detect whether they have calcium or plaque in the blood vessels leading to the heart, a sign that appears in the early stage of the disease. They also had to take tests that detected whether they have arterial stiffness in the legs, another sign of vascular aging.
The statistics in the questionnaires showed that the participants’ average sleep time was about 6.5 hours per night, with 85% of them claiming that their sleep quality is usually good. The Korean researchers considered that those participants with less than give hours of sleep per night were short sleepers, while those who got more than 8 hours to be long sleepers.
The researchers found that short sleepers had 50% more calcium in the artery leading to the heart than those who slept for about 7 hours per night. Contrary to the expectations, long sleepers had 70% more calcium in their coronary arteries than those who slept for 7 hours per night. All these numbers were calculated after the results of arteriosclerosis, vascular biology and thrombosis were carefully analyzed.
The participants who reported poor sleep quality also had more calcium deposited on their coronary arteries.
The scientists have concluded that people who sleep for about 7 hours per night have the healthiest hearts. Dr. Kim warns however that we should not make the assumption that everybody’s circadian rhythm works by the same pattern, and said that for some people 7 hours of night might not be enough, and it could lead to chronical chronic fatigue.
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