Friday, September 6, 2013

Cutting Back On Sleep Harms Blood Vessel Function and Breathing Control


Findings could help explain why sleep deprivation associated with cardiovascular disease.

A bevy of research has shown a link between sleep deprivation and cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, and obesity.

However, it's been unclear why sleep loss might lead to these effects.

Cutting Sleep in Half

In a new study, researchers at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom reported that reducing sleep length over two consecutive nights leads to less healthy vascular function and impaired breathing control.

The team, comprising of Keith Pugh, Shahrad Taheri, and George Balanos, will discuss the abstract of their study entitled, "The Effects of Sleep Restriction on the Respiratory and Vascular Control," at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting, being held April 20-24, 2013 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston, Mass.

A Mechanism for Cardiovascular Harm

Pugh notes that the results could suggest a mechanism behind the connection between sleep loss and cardiovascular disease. "If acute sleep loss occurs repetitively over a long period of time, then vascular health could be compromised further and eventually mediate the development of cardiovascular disease," he explains.

Similarly, the loss of breathing control that the researchers observed could play a role in the development of sleep apnea, which has also been linked with cardiovascular disease. Pugh adds that some populations who tend to report sleeping shorter periods, such as the elderly, could be at an even higher risk of these adverse health effects.

He and his colleagues plan to continue studying these effects in more subjects to strengthen their results. Eventually, Pugh says, they hope to discover a mechanism to explain why restricting sleep harms vascular function and breathing control.


The above story is based on the April 18, 2013 by American Physiological Society (APS).

As the findings are being presented at a scientific conference, they should be considered preliminary, as they have not undergone the peer review process that is conducted prior to the data being published in a scientific journal. Nevertheless, the  link between sleep deprivation and cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, and obesity is not disputed.

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