WARNING: Insufficient sleep sparks cardiovascular chaos
(NaturalHealth365) A poor night’s sleep can cause much more trouble than just making you groggy and irritable the next day. In fact, it’s well-established that chronic sleep deprivation and sleep disorders like insomnia are linked to an increased risk of a huge range of negative health outcomes, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke.
But a new study published in September 2023 in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports shows that even mild sleep restriction can damage delicate blood vessel tissue – which researchers warn is paving the way for cardiovascular disease.
“Sleep restriction increases endothelial oxidative stress,” raises cardiovascular risk over time, new study confirms
“More than a third of US adults sleep less than recommended 7-8 [hours] per night,” begin the co-authors of the new Scientific Reports randomized cross-over study, published under the title “Mild sleep restriction increases endothelial oxidative stress in female persons.”
Clearly, sleep deprivation is a significant public health issue, and the authors rightly nod to the wide collection of research already dedicated to this problem. In fact, the authors note that they themselves recently reported on the “first causal evidence that mild, prolonged sleep restriction mimicking ‘real-life’ conditions impairs endothelial function,” which they warn is “a key step in the development and progression of cardiovascular disease.” (In case you were wondering, endothelial tissue comprises a single layer of specialized cells and forms the inner lining of your blood vessels.)
Their prior research involved healthy females and is of significant import, given that a) their findings were causal (that is, sleep restriction was shown to cause impaired endothelial tissue function), and b) cardiovascular risk associated with sleep restriction is “more pronounced in female than male persons.” The authors subsequently conducted this September 2023 study in an effort to clarify the underlying mechanisms of exactly how sleep deprivation harms endothelial tissue.
To do this, the authors directly assessed the degree of endothelial cell oxidative stress and antioxidant responses in 35 healthy females following six weeks of just mild sleep restriction – which the researchers defined as 1.5 hours less than the amount of sleep the women usually got.
So, what did they find? Even this minimal decrease in nightly Zzz’s “markedly increased endothelial oxidative stress without upregulating antioxidant response” (emphasis ours). In other words, mild sleep deprivation launches a harmful one-two punch on the cardiovascular system:
- The endothelial cells in the females’ blood vessels were flooded with harmful molecules called free radical oxidants as a result of the short-term sleep deprivation, AND
- Unlike healthy endothelial cells, these sleep-deprived females’ endothelial cells could NOT activate the necessary antioxidant response to clear out the harmful free radicals. The authors further found that this was due to a reduced expression of a protein called endothelial DCUN1D3, which normally mediates antioxidant responses in the body.
“These findings provide direct evidence that curtailing sleep, a highly prevalent behavioral pattern among adults, has detrimental effects on vascular health,” the authors conclude, which they warn “over time increases cardiovascular risk.”
Heart disease is a leading killer of women (and men), and efforts to improve sleep quality and duration are likely to be a major factor in reducing your risk
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who aren’t consistently getting enough sleep, we know it’s tough not to, well … lose sleep over it. But research like this should encourage all of us to do what we can to improve our sleep quality every night.
Because here’s the thing:
Nearly half (44 percent) of women in the U.S. live with some form of heart disease. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both women (responsible for 1 in 5 female deaths) and men (1 in 4 male deaths), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Obviously, the development of heart disease is a multifaceted process. But the evidence is increasingly clear that improving your sleep quality – through efforts such as having consistent sleep and wake times, making your sleeping environment cool and dark, establishing a relaxing nighttime routine, and avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol – is poised to make a significant difference in reducing your risk of heart disease.
If at all possible, the most important thing here is to get sleep between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am for the most “restorative” hours of the night. Remember the old saying, ‘early to bed, early to rise makes a man (and woman) healthy, wealthy and wise.’ (so true!)
No doubt, getting enough sleep will help you be less groggy, more focused and successful in your daily life. Get started today.
Editor’s note: Discover the many natural ways to improve your heart function and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, own the Cardiovascular Docu-Class, created by NaturalHealth365 Programs.
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