People who sleep less than six hours a night may be at increased risk of cardiovascular (heart and blood) disease, a new research has found.
The study, as published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, reveals that poor quality sleep increases the risk of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a heart pathology marked with the accumulation of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on artery walls, restricting blood flow.
“Cardiovascular disease is a major global problem, and we are preventing and treating it using several approaches, including pharmaceuticals, physical activity and diet. But this study emphasizes we have to include sleep as one of the weapons we use to fight heart disease – a factor we are compromising every day,” Jose Ordovas, senior author of the study, explains.
After series of experiments, people who slept less than six hours were found to be 27 percent more likely to have atherosclerosis when compared with those who slept seven to eight hours.
Those who had poor quality of sleep were 34 percent more likely to have atherosclerosis compared with those who had good quality of sleep.
Previous studies have shown that lack of sleep increases heart disease risk factors such as glucose levels; blood pressure; inflammation and obesity.
“This is the first study to show that objectively measured sleep is independently associated with atherosclerosis throughout the body, not just in the heart,” Jose said.