A new study has added short nights to the list of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Insufficient or poor sleep is associated with atherosclerosis.
Adults would need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to be in good shape. Some will say they need more, others less… But a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on January 14 shows that people who sleep less than 6 hours a night are at greater risk of suffering from cardiovascular disorders, including atherosclerosis.
This chronic arterial disease is characterized by the deposition of lipids – that is to say of fatty substances – on the walls of the arteries. Mostly asymptomatic, these plaques can however cause damage to the arterial wall, which is called sclerosis, obstructing it or causing it to rupture. This can be the cause of a myocardial infarction, a stroke or arteritis of the lower limbs.
Scientists have sought to determine the impact of sleep on this cardiovascular risk. For seven days, 3,974 Spanish bank employees carried a device measuring their activity, in order to estimate the duration of their sleep and its quality. The participants were then divided into four groups, according to their daily rest period: those who slept less than 6 hours per night, between 6 and 7 hours, between 7 and 8 hours and finally more than 8 hours. The volunteers then underwent a CT scan and a 3D cardiac ultrasound.
Results? Participants who slept less than 6 hours per night had a 27% increased risk of atherosclerosis throughout the body, compared to those who sleep 7 to 8 hours of sleep. But women who slept more than eight hours a night were also at increased risk for this condition.
Poor sleep, for example in people waking several times at night or moving a lot, also resulted in a 34% increased risk of being affected by cardiovascular disease. The researchers also found that alcohol and caffeine consumption was higher among participants with short and disrupted sleep. They finally conclude that sleep deprivation involves serious health disruptions. It would thus be necessary to “put sleep… alongside diet and exercise as an essential pillar of a healthy lifestyle,” they write.