Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk in 2021
Going to bed just an hour later could put you at a greater risk of developing a silent killer disease.
Heart and other circulatory diseases are among the biggest causes of death in the UK, accounting for around a quarter of all fatalities.
There are a number of factors that can put you at increased risk for heart problems including diet, how often you exercise and genetics.
However, new research revealed that your sleeping habits can also have a major impact on your heart health.
A study, conducted by Columbia University in the US, has found that not getting enough sleep at night can damage the heart.
The research, which has been published in Scientific Reports journal, concluded that even mild sleep deprivation can be dangerous.
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As part of the 12-week study, 35 healthy women who typically slept the recommended seven to eight hours each night participated.
For the first six weeks of the study they maintained their regular sleep schedules.
But in the subsequent six weeks they went to bed an hour and a half later than usual.
They wore sleep trackers around their wrists so their sleeping habits could be monitored.
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It was discovered that after just six weeks of getting less sleep, the cells lining the participants’ blood vessels were exposed to harmful oxidants.
This was because the cells subjected to sleep deprivation were unable to activate antioxidant responses to clear the harmful molecules.
As a result, these sleep-deprived cells became inflamed and dysfunctional, a critical early stage in the development of cardiovascular disease.
Study leader and director of the Centre for Sleep Medicine at Columbia, Sanja Jelic, said in a university release: “This is some of the first direct evidence to show that mild chronic sleep deficits cause heart disease.
“Until now we’ve only seen associations between sleep and heart health in epidemiological studies, but these studies could be tainted by many confounders that cannot be identified and adjusted for.
“Only randomised controlled studies can determine if this connection is real and what changes in the body caused by short sleep could increase heart disease.”
Dr Jelic warned that going to bed later at night is common among adults.
She said: “Most people get up around the same time each day but tend to push back their bedtime one to two hours.
“We wanted to mimic that behaviour, which is the most common sleep pattern we see in adults.”
The NHS recommends that adults sleep seven to nine hours a night.
However, findings by YouGov suggest only 32 percent of people in the UK sleep seven hours and 17 percent get eight hours a night. Twenty-eight percent of people said they sleep six hours a night.
Dr Jelic added: “Many problems could be solved if people sleep at least seven to eight hours per night.
“People who are young and healthy need to know that if they keep getting less sleep than that, they’re aggravating their cardiovascular risk.”
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