It is now proven that lack of sleep can lead to heart diseases.
According to the December issue of Journal of the American Medical Association, people who get 5 -7 hours of sleep nightly are almost twice as likely to develop early signs of blood vessel damage as those who get more rest. The research is led by Diane Lauderdale, an epodemiologist at the University of Chicago. The study involved 495 people aged 35 – 47 who did not have existing heart damage to see whether a lack of sleep might be a contributing factor to heart diseases.
The largest group of subjects received 5-7 hours of sleep a night. Over the 5 years of study, about 11% developed calcified arteries. With less than 5 hours of nightly sleep, the danger rose starkly with 27% developing blood vessel calcification during the study. In contrast, only 6% of those who received more than 7 hours of sleep showed signs of heart damage at the end of the study.
Earlier studies had shown that lack of sleep may contribute to obesity and diabetes.
Heart disease often occurs only after years of damage to the blood vessels that surround and support the cardiac muscle. A key step in the damage occurs when deposits of calcium build up on blood vessel wall, setting the stage for the growth of plaque laden with fat, clotted blood and immune cells.
(source: Mind Your Body, 1 Jan 2009)