News Desk |
One aspect of health that a person’s quality of sleep can influence the health of his heart and blood. For example, A study from this year explains how good sleep can help keep the arteries supple, thus maintaining good circulation.
Now, research from the University of Colorado Boulder has pinpointed how lack of sleep affects circulation by promoting the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries (atherogenesis), which can increase a person’s risk of experiencing a stroke or heart attack. The findings, which appear in the journal Experimental Physiology, tie sleeplessness to changes in the blood levels of genetic components that help make our body’s proteins.
In the current study, the researchers collected blood samples from 24 healthy participants aged 44–62 years, who also provided information about their sleeping habits. Of the participants, 12 reported sleeping 7–8.5 hours per night, while the other 12 said that they only slept for 5–6.8 hours per night.
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The team found that the participants who slept for less than 7 hours per night had blood levels of three key circulating miRNAs — miR-125A, miR-126, and miR-146a — that were 40–60% lower than those of their peers who slept for 7 or 8 hours. These molecules, the researchers note, suppress the expression of proteins that promote healing.
Prof. DeSouza and his team had already found another worrying pattern in a previous study, for which they recruited adult men who slept for less than 6 hours each night. The study showed that the participants’ endothelial cells — which make up the lining of blood vessels — did not function properly.
As a result, their blood vessels were unable to dilate and contract properly to allow blood to flow efficiently to different organs and parts of the body. This situation, Prof. DeSouza and colleagues have explained, poses another set of risks to cardiovascular health. “It is plausible that people need at least 7 hours of sleep per night to maintain levels of important physiological regulators, such as microRNAs.”
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In any case, Prof. DeSouza emphasizes that the findings of the recent study corroborate what sleep studies have been suggesting all along — that sleep quality influences unexpected aspects of health. “Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep,” he stresses.