Research suggests that a good night’s sleep helps to keep your arteries healthy. The latest evidence suggests that sleep can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries. When arteries become stiff, it increases the risk of a cardiovascular event.
The researchers studied the development of atherosclerosis in mice. They found that sleep-deprived mice had more plaque along their arteries than mice that slept well. Sleep-deprived mice also had more inflammatory cells and lower hypocretin, which is a brain hormone that controls wakefulness.
After the mice received a supplement of hypocretin, there was a reduction of atherosclerosis and inflammatory cells.
Senior study author Filip K. Swirski explained, “We’ve identified a mechanism by which a brain hormone controls production of inflammatory cells in the bone marrow in a way that helps protect the blood vessels from damage.”
It has been well documented that sleep is an integral part of health, so it’s not a surprise that a lack of sleep can hurt your arteries.
Plaque from atherosclerosis doesn’t form overnight, but over the course of years with a build-up of calcium, lipids, cholesterol, and other substances. As plaque builds up, it prevents the flow of oxygenated and nutrient-dense blood, which can contribute to health problems including coronary heart disease.
The study adds more evidence to the importance of sleep. If you’re struggling with getting a good night’s sleep, there are natural remedies to try such as meditation, yoga, creating a bedtime routine, avoiding the use of technology before bed, ensuring your bedroom is cool, and drinking a warm tea before bed. If these natural techniques are unsuccessful, then speak to your doctor about a possible diagnosis of an underlying health problem preventing you from sleeping.
If you have other risk factors for a cardiovascular event, then it is even more critical that you work on improving your sleep to reduce your risk more so.