Not getting enough sleep is linked to an array of health problems ranging from trouble concentrating, low productivity to diabetes type II and cardiovascular disease. But while it is understandable that drowsiness from not sleeping enough causes one to not do well at work, what explains the link that sleep shares with heart health?
From the outside, one would think that sleep couldn’t impact heart health at all. However, not sleeping for enough hours can raise one’s blood pressure levels. Unfortunately, 27% of the adults in America are not getting enough sleep each night.
To understand the relation between sleep and cardiovascular health, a new study which has been published in the Experimental Physiology journal can be looked at. This new study says that lack of sleep can decrease particular fragments of non-coding RNA molecules which are found in blood and are called microRNAs.
Now these markers of specific microRNAs share a link with heart health and disease. A downward trend in these microRNAs can have negative side effects. Not sleeping for the recommended hours can reduce these microRNAs which, as mentioned, can take a toll on heart health.
For the purpose of this study, a small sample of 24 men who were middle-aged was hired. These individuals reported how many hours they slept, and researchers then divided them into two groups:
- The first group slept for seven or more hours
- The second group slept for fewer than seven hours
The study showed that the number of hours one slept had an impact on their circulating microRNA markers. People who slept less has lower microRNA levels. To go in-dept, specifically miR146a levels reduced in people who slept less and this miR146a works to reduce cardiovascular inflammation.
However, it could be that these effects on the levels of microRNA could be caused because of lifestyle and diet related factors. But researchers had made certain that all the participants had similar body composition and fitness. Currently, the researchers of this study are working on studying if getting a longer sleep duration could restore the levels of microRNA.
Keep in mind that not all people need just 7 hours of sleep even though this is the established benchmark. Experts recommend people to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. However, some groups of people, such as teens, may require more hours of sleep.
“Why seven or eight hours seems to be the ‘magic’ number is unclear. However, it is plausible that people need at least seven hours of sleep per night to maintain levels of important physiological regulators, such as microRNAs,” said Jamie Hijmans, who was a part of this research.
To sum up, this new research explains the link between sleep and cardiovascular health. Looking at how important a role sleep plays in one’s overall health, it is crucial to get at least the recommended 7 hours of sleep. However, regularly overdosing on sleep is also not recommended.