In the most recent studies conducted by US researchers, it has been found out that not getting enough sleep at night would lead to higher levels of inflammation which is a known risk factor for stroke and heart disease.
A cardiology expert at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Dr. Alanna Morris, confirmed that these findings were accurate. She said that inflammation has always been the immediate results of lack of sleep resulting to significant changes in the elasticity of the blood vessels. This data was recently presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Chicago.
The data in which Morris and colleagues extracted their conclusion from are taken from 525 middle-aged subjects; they were asked to fill up Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) questionnaires. Among these subjects 47 per cent were African-American while 61 per cent were female. The PSQI asked the participants about their sleep pattern, quality and duration.
The experts analyzed the data they acquired from the participants and grouped them into three according to their sleep duration; 9 or more hours, between 8.9 and 6 hours, and 6 hours and below. When a person gets a score of six, it is considered as ‘poor sleep’, thus unhealthy.
There were also three levels of inflammatory markers; C-reactive protein (CRP), IL-6, and fibrinogen.
C-reactive protein is considered the worst case as it is used as a marker of inflammation leading to stroke and heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) said that the people whose CRP is 3 mg per liter or more has twice the risk of a stroke or heart attack compared with than people who have lower levels of CRP. Thus, the risk of heart-related disease can be directly proportional to the levels of CRP in a person.
Among the other findings of Dr. Morris and US researchers are the following;
1. The three level of inflammation markers differ according to the three sleep duration categories.
2. Among the subjects, those who have lower sleep quality and duration are found out to have high levels of IL-6, CRP and fibrinogen.
3. People with sleep duration of 9 down to 6 hours did not show any significant symptoms of inflammation.
The conclusion made by Dr. Alanna Morris, et al is that, poor quality and short duration of sleep are always associated with higher levels of risks of heart diseases due to high levels of inflammation. Thus, improving the quality of sleep and having longer sleep duration would dramatically improve the condition of a person eliminating the risks of heart diseases and strokes caused by inflammation.
Further studies show that sleeping between 7 and 8 hours would help a person live longer, while sleeping less or more than that would make the lifespan shorter. Shorter sleep duration causes inflammation leading to cardiovascular diseases while sleeping longer than 8 hours would also lead to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Therefore, for a person to avoid heart disease and strokes, sleeping between 7 and 8 hours everyday is advised. Going beyond the boundaries of this range will result to unhealthy body conditions over time.