Irregular Sleep Increases Cardiovascular Disease Risk

At this point, suggesting that sleep is important for cardiovascular health, and a lack of sleep detrimental to it, seems like beating a dead horse (sorry PETA).

Not getting ENOUGH sleep — having a short sleep duration — is associated with metabolic, neurological, and cardiovascular dysfunction.

In addition to duration, poor sleep habits and “shift work” are also associated with a greater risk for a variety of diseases.

The way in which poor sleep habits influence disease risk probably involves disruption of our circadian rhythms. Our bodies run on a highly-coordinated 24 hour clock (circa dia means “around one day”) that synchronizes everything from hormone release to metabolism, and even feeding behaviors.

Circadian clock “desynchrony” can lead to cardiometabolic dysfunction, hence the strong association of disruption of the internal clock with many diseases like obesity, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

One way to “de-synchronize” the clock is to have inconsistent or irregular sleep patterns. This means that you have high day-to-day variability in 1. how long you sleep 2. the time when you go to sleep or 3. the time at which you wake up.

Rather than going to bed at 10 p.m. and waking up at 6 a.m. every single day, one might go to bed at 11 p.m. on Monday, 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and 2 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Irregular patterns shift the timing of circadian rhythms, leading to desynchrony.

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) investigated whether irregular sleep could be a risk factor for cardiovascular events and disease outcomes. The question is novel given that most prior studies have focused their attention on habitual sleep duration…

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