A new study has found that sleeping too little or too much will make you more vulnerable to developing heart disease.
A team of researchers from South Korea say that men and women who spend 9 hours or more sleeping each night have stiffer arteries and higher levels of calcium in their arterial walls. This increases their chances of developing heart disease.
As for the reverse, men and women who spend 5 hours or less sleeping each night also have these changes in their bodies. The ideal number of hours one should spend sleeping is 6 or 7.
But the number of hours isn’t the only sleep related risk factor threatening your health. The actual quality of the sleep matters too. The subjects who reported sleeping poorly, were much more likely to have stiffer arteries and higher levels of calcium in their arterial walls, when compared to the subjects who reported sleeping well.
Dr. Chan-Won Kim, co-lead author on the study and associate professor from Kangbuk Samsung Hospital (South Korea), gave a statement saying that the new study backs up the conclusions of earlier studies – poor sleeping patterns have often been linked to a higher chance of experiencing heart attacks and strokes.
However, Dr. Kim also informed that there are other risk factors (such as obesity or depression) that may also increase a person’s chances of experiencing heart attacks and strokes.
He told Live Science that “A key characteristic of our study is that we studied early markers of heart disease in healthy men and women, before symptoms related to heart disease occur”.
For their study, Dr. Kim and his colleagues looked at over 47.000 young, as well as middle-aged adults, and asked them how well and how long they slept on an average night.
After examining the stiffness of their arteries and the levels of calcium that they had in their arterial walls, the research team concluded that there’s a U-shaped curve between these changes and sleep duration. What this means is that whether you sleep too little or too much, you still increase your chances of experiencing heart disease.
The standard recommendation is that people should sleep for 7 hours each night, however Dr. Kim said that some individuals may feel rested after only sleeping for 6 hours, and that this is also an acceptable amount of time.
But he does stress, that unless the 6 or 7 hours are quality sleep, people still increase their chances of experiencing heart disease.
Dr. Susan Redline, professor of sleep medicine from the Harvard School of Medicine (Boston), did not take part in the study, however she does have a theory as to why sleep is so important.
She said that there may actually be an optimal number of hours that people should spend sleeping, and when they don’t, their bodies respond with these health issues. Dr. Redline also stressed that individuals who sleep too little or too much often report suffering heart attacks, strokes, and there are even recorder cases of some of them experiencing an early death.
The findings were published earlier this week, on Thursday (September 10, 2015), in the journal Vascular Biology, Thrombosis, and Arteriosclerosis.
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