Getting enough sleep can do more than make you perky. New research shows it could also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Sleep, scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital found, helps regulate blood vessel health and the production of inflammatory cells in bone marrow. When sleep is disrupted, the body’s normal process of controlling inflammatory cells is compromised, which can lead to heart disease.
Using mice genetically predisposed to atherosclerosis, or fat buildup in arteries, researchers exposed the animals to sleep interruptions. The tests were meant to mimic sleep disruption in humans caused by discomfort or noise.
The sleep-deprived mice developed higher cholesterol levels and were less able to process blood sugar compared with mice that slept normally. They also had more fatty plaque in their arteries and more inflammatory cells in blood vessels that contribute to atherosclerosis.
Further experiments revealed sleep-deprived mice suffered from a drop in a particular hormone that is produced in the brain. The researchers concluded that sets off a chain of events that leads to changes in the production of white blood cells. Taken together, the findings indicate the brain hormone is an important regulator of inflammation that is influenced by sleep deprivation and ultimately affects hardening of the arteries.
Next, the researchers want to study the pathways and the mechanisms involving sleep and vascular health in humans.
So, keep an eye on the amount of your shuteye. It could bring some benefits to your cardiovascular health.