Study finds INSUFFICIENT SLEEP negatively impacts cardiovascular health
10/25/2023 // Olivia Cook // Views

Having a poor night's sleep can not only affect your mood the next day, it can also negatively impact your cardiovascular system.

This was the finding of a study published in Scientific Reports. "Sleep restriction is associated with increased cardiovascular risk," the study authors wrote, noting that "more than a third of U.S. adults sleep less than recommended seven to eight hours per night.

According to the researchers, female study participants who had a bad night's sleep had abundant amounts of free radicals in the cells lining the inside of their blood vessels. Compared to participants who had sufficient sleep, the sleep-deprived subjects could not activate the necessary antioxidant response to clear out these free radicals. This is because insufficient sleep reduces the expression of a protein called DCUN1D3, which normally mediates antioxidant responses in the body.

Why is getting enough sleep important?

There are two dimensions to sleep – quantity, which is how much sleep you get each night, and quality, which is the depth of your sleep experience, which is when you fall asleep quite easily, do not fully wake up during the night, do not wake up too early and feel refreshed and re-energized in the morning.

The American Heart Association recognizes lack of age-related adequate quality sleep as a risk factor for adverse cardiometabolic profiles and poor outcomes.

Numerous studies have shown substantial evidence that demonstrates how sleeping problems spark cardiovascular chaos, including chest pain (angina), high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, heart attack, heart failure, heart palpitations, stroke, unexplained chest pain, diabetes, obesity and more.

Sleep and blood pressure

Your blood pressure drops during healthy, normal sleep and this is referred to as "nocturnal dipping."

Research published in the World Journal of Cardiology indicated that a dip of 10 to 20 percent is considered normal.

"Blunted or absent dips" of less than 10 percent have been considered an adverse cardiovascular event. Those in excess of 20 percent are known as "exaggerated or extreme dipping."

A study published in the journal Hypertension Research indicated that extreme dippers have a higher occurrence of deep white matter lesions, silent cerebral infarctions or stroke and silent myocardial ischemia or heart attack during sleep than normal dippers.

During extreme dipping, nocturnal hypoperfusion (shock) at the brain or heart may occur and lead to organ damage.

This is particularly of concern in older hypertensive patients with impaired cerebral auto-regulation, or the ability to maintain stable blood flow despite changes in blood pressure.

Sleep and coronary heart disease

A short sleep duration of less than six hours can likely cause non-fatal cardiovascular events (e.g., angina pectoris or chest pain), myocardial infarction (e.g., a silent heart attack) or sudden cardiac death, as shown in a study published in the Korean Journal of Physiology & Pharmacology.

Sleep and obesity

If you're not getting enough quality sleep, your brain decreases leptin, which tells your brain when you've had enough to eat, and increases the production of ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite – leading you to overeat and gain weight.

Being overweight or obese is strongly associated with numerous cardiovascular and cardio-metabolic problems.

Sleep and hormonal imbalances

Sleep deprivation or lack of sleep can cause hormonal imbalance and the imbalance of hormones can lead to more sleep deprivation – a vicious cycle. These imbalances can have widespread effects on your body.

For example, with menopause, your estrogen levels drop this decrease in estrogen may cause women to experience troublesome hot flashes, mood changes, night sweats and/or vaginal dryness – which then leads to disrupted sleep events.

Sleep deprivation (when sleep disruption is severe) contributes to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol and the connection goes both ways.

High cortisol levels in the evening can cause you to lack sleep hours and may also lead to sleep disorders, such as chronic insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea, in which your breathing stops and restarts many times while you sleep.

A sleep doctor explains that cortisol is not the enemy of your sleep because a healthy cortisol rhythm helps to keep your circadian or sleep cycle in check. This means you want higher cortisol levels in the morning to help you wake up and lower levels in the evening to help you fall asleep easily.

Chronic stress is not good news for your sleep because you will have high levels of cortisol at all times and sleep loss can hike your cortisol levels – trapping you in a vicious cycle of more sleep deprivation and more cortisol. (Related: Improve sleep quality to bolster your resilience against anxiety and depression.)

Sleep, cortisol and insulin sensitivity

Aside from the hormone cortisol, insulin is an essential hormone that helps your body turn the food you consume into energy and controls your blood sugar.

Cortisol prepares your body for the burst of energy it needs for both "fight and flight" by increasing your blood sugar as an energy source.

During a cortisol-inducing stressful event (as mentioned earlier), you are able to access quick energy but the stress hormone would slow down insulin production so blood sugar won't be stored so it can't be used immediately and won't be able to work as efficiently.

Sleep deprivation also contributes to elevated cortisol levels and if it remains high for an extended period of time, your body can remain in an insulin-resistant state.

Over time, you'll be more susceptible to chronic fatigue, weight gain and diabetes – in addition to other health problems.

Keep your heart healthy by developing good sleep hygiene habits

Sleep hygiene is a catchall term for habits and behaviors that can influence (or negatively impact) sleep – all the steps you take and daytime behaviors you engage in to help get a good night's sleep.

When your circadian rhythm and your sleep drive line up, your body is ready to sleep.

Sleep drive tells you "you need to sleep" based on a build-up of adenosine (a byproduct of cellular metabolism) in the brain. The more active and alert you are during the day, the more adenosine builds up and eventually leads you to "feel sleepy."

Practice these healthy sleep tips:

Continuous sleep deprivation can cause reduced performance and detrimental effects on both your physical and psychological health and well-being.

Visit for more stories about the link between sleep and cardiovascular issues.

Watch this video that explains how a magnesium malate supplement can support healthy sleep patterns.

This video is from the Health Ranger Store channel on

More related stories:

Top 5 causes of HEART ATTACKS you may not know about.

Sleep deprivation linked to health issues like obesity and cognitive decline.

33 Percent of Americans are sleep-deprived, putting them at higher risk of disease and death: Are you getting enough sleep?

Sources include: 1 2

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