Sleep is an essential component of our daily lives, playing a crucial role in maintaining physical and mental health. However, with modern-day lifestyles and work demands, sleep irregularities have become increasingly common in today’s society. Recent research has shown that irregular sleep patterns can lead to adverse health outcomes, including an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis.
In this blog, we will discuss the link between sleep irregularities and atherosclerosis, exploring the underlying mechanisms and highlighting the importance of maintaining a regular sleep routine to promote cardiovascular health.
Understanding the latest study
The latest study included participants with an average age of 68.6 years, and 53.6% were women. Most of the participants identified as non-white, with 27.6% being Black or African American, 23.4% Hispanic American, and 11.1% Chinese American.
During a 7-day period, around 38% of participants experienced a change in sleep duration of more than 90 minutes, and 18% experienced a sleep duration change of more than 120 minutes. Those who had irregular sleep were more likely to be current smokers, have lower average annual incomes, work shift schedules, and have a higher average body mass index.
Irregular sleep was defined as having a standard deviation of more than 120 minutes. Those with greater sleep irregularity were more likely to have a high coronary artery calcium burden, and abnormal ankle-brachial index. Additionally, those with irregular sleep timing (SD > 90 minutes) were more likely to have a high coronary artery calcium burden in comparison with those with more regular sleep timing (SD < 30 minutes).
In simple terms, those who did suffer sleep irregularities were at an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis.
What is atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is a condition where fatty deposits (plaque) build up inside the walls of arteries. This causes them to narrow and harden, restricting blood flow to organs and tissues. Depending upon which arteries are affected, it can lead to a variety of heart issues. For example, atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries can lead to chest pain or a heart attack, while atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries can lead to a stroke.
It is a slow and progressive disease that can develop over many years, and it is often linked to risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes.
Improving sleep could be key to protecting heart health
Sleep helps to regulate the body’s stress response system and plays a critical role in controlling inflammation. This is a process that can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. Sleep disturbances can lead to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, which can trigger inflammation and damage to the arterial walls.
Fortunately, there are many simple steps that you can take to improve your sleep and protect your heart health. Establishing a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and reducing exposure to blue light from electronic devices, can all help to promote better sleep quality. Also, practising relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises can help to reduce stress and promote better sleep.
If you are worried about your heart health, book an appointment with Dr Konrad Grosser today. He will help get to the bottom of the issues you are facing, and implement a treatment plan based upon your individual requirements.