For a while there has been an assumed link between poor sleep and heart disease but it was not understood. Now fresh evidence suggests that sleep regulates a mechanism that can help to protect arteries from hardening. Which reinforces the notion that good quality sleep is important for cardiovascular health.
Researches studied the development of atherosclerosis - the process through which plaques or fatty deposits build up inside arteries causing them to narrow and stiffen. They discovered sleep disturbed mice:
Developed larger plaques in their arteries than mice that slept well.
Had higher amounts of circulating, inflammatory cells.
Produced lower amounts of hypocretin - a brain hormone that controls wakefulness.
Researchers also saw a reduction in atherosclerosis and inflammatory cells in these mice after they recieved hyocretin supplementation.
Subject to confirmation in humans, the findings demonstratet that sleep influences cardiovascular health by regulating hypocretin production in the brain.