New research suggests that sleeping less than six hours each night might double the chances of having a heart disease or stroke. This applies mostly to people who already have certain risk factors and could potentially have diabetes or heart disease.
The cluster of risk factors, also known as metabolic syndrome, includes or can include high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, elevated blood sugar and /or blood fats, and low levels of good cholesterol. If a person is found to have at least three of the mentioned, they are considered to have a metabolic syndrome.
Study lead researcher at the Sleep Research and Treatment Center at Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, says that it is possible to improve the prognosis in people with metabolic syndrome by improving sleep itself. This means that the progression of cardiovascular disease or stroke could be slowed down or stopped, which would save a person from an early death.
Fernandez – Mendoza also explained that the conducted research did not prove that having a metabolic syndrome and getting little sleep will undoubtedly cause a stroke or heart disease, but that they have merely made an association that needs further research.
The researcher also explains that people with the syndrome may very well have a sedentary lifestyle or a poor diet choice, which were the factors that the study could not account for.
If we consider the biological perspective, the study found that short sleep could lead to increase the risk of premature death. This is especially important with subjects that already have high blood pressure and sugar levels.
According to Fernander-Mendoza, it is absolutely possible that people who suffer from metabolic syndrome and have short sleep cycles have more problematic issues with metabolism in general and also anatomic nervous system. However, to come to any solid conclusions we will need a lot more comprehensive future studies to examine the said hypothesis.
Regardless of that, it is important for people to pay attention to their sleep quality and if they do notice any kind of issues, they should go to their doctor and maybe even participate in a sleep study. When calculation risks for cardiovascular risks, sleep is undoubtedly a very important factor and should be taken into consideration.