The fast pace of life and stressful situations can make us steal hours of sleep to finish all the daily tasks because we have the false impression that sleeping is wasting time. However, this is not the case, since it has been proven that sleeping well is essential for our body to recover and to enjoy good health, as explained by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
many adults They only sleep five or six hours a dayeven though experts recommend a minimum of seven or eight hours, and now new research by researchers at Columbia University has found that even a mild chronic sleep deficit can increase the risk of developing heart diseases long term in women.
Researchers have observed what happens in the body during mild and chronic sleep deprivation and have found that, after just six weeks of reduced sleep, cells that line blood vessels They fill up with oxidants and, unlike the cells of well-rested people, sleep-restricted cells fail to activate antioxidant responses to eliminate destructive molecules.
As a result of this, they appear inflamed cells that cannot fulfill their function and are considered an early sign in the development of cardiovascular diseases. “This is one of the first direct evidence showing that mild, chronic sleep deficits cause heart disease,” said Dr. Sanja Jelic, director of the Columbia Sleep Medicine Center, professor of medicine at Columbia University. and leader of the study, which has been published in Scientific Reports.
How sleep quality influences heart health
“So far we have only seen associations between sleep and heart health in epidemiological studies, but these studies could be affected by many confounding factors that cannot be identified or adjusted for. Only randomized controlled studies can determine if this connection is real and what changes in the body caused by Lack of sleep could increase heart disease,” says the researcher.
Studies on human sleep have examined the physiological effects of a few nights of deep sleep deprivation, but Jelic explains that this is not the usual way people behave; rather, most people wake up at about the same time each day, but “they tend to delay bedtime one or two hours”. “We wanted to mimic that behavior, which is the most common sleep pattern we see in adults.”
“Young, healthy people should know that if they continue to sleep fewer hours, they are aggravating their cardiovascular risk”
To carry out the study, the researchers examined almost 1,000 women in Washington Heights (a neighborhood in New York City, in the United States), and recruited 35 healthy women who normally sleep seven to eight hours a night and who could complete the 12 week study. For six weeks the women slept according to their usual routine, and for the other six weeks they went to bed 1.5 hours later than usual. Each participant’s sleep was monitored with sleep monitors worn on their wrist.
The researchers tracked the absence of the antioxidant response in sleep-deprived cells and found that cells from individuals subjected to chronic sleep restriction showed greater oxidative stress than those from a well-rested person.
“Many problems could be solved if people slept at least seven to eight hours a night,” said Jelic, adding that “young and healthy people should know that, if they continue to sleep fewer hours, they are aggravating their cardiovascular risk.”
Recent epidemiological studies suggest that inconsistent bedtimes may increase the risk of heart disease. Jelic’s team is now launching a study to test whether variability in bedtime affects vascular cells in the same way as short, chronic, but regular sleep.