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Why Sleep is Good For Your Heart

July 02, 2019

How sleep affects the health of your arteries

By now, we all know that sufficient sleep is vital if you wish to sustain optimal health. We also know that too little sleep has been linked to conditions ranging from obesity and type 2 diabetes, to depression and heart disease. The thing is, despite this knowledge, we didn't really know or understand which underlying biological mechanisms were at play. We just knew there was a causal link between insufficient sleep and these diseases. Up until now, that is. 

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston recently banded together with colleagues from other research centres to study the development of atherosclerosis in mice. This ultimately leads to them plotting out the fairly complicated mechanism by which insufficient sleep is directly responsible for increasing the production of inflammatory white blood cells that are known to be major contributors to the development of the disease that causes arteries to narrow and stiffen due to the build-up of fatty deposits.

Right, here’s where we take a deep dive into some hardcore science. What the researchers from MGH did was to take mice that had been bred to have a propensity for atherosclerosis and allow half of them to sleep normally, while disrupting the sleep of the other half. This is when they found that the group whose sleep was interrupted developed larger plaques in their arteries than the mice that slept well. The sleepy mice were also found to have higher amounts of inflammatory cells and lower levels of hypocretin. Hypocretin is a hormone in the brain that controls wakefulness in the brain, and this study found that it also controls processes in the bone marrow that protects against cardiovascular disease.

Filip Swirski from MGH stated that they now know for certain that sleep helps to regulate the production of inflammatory cells in the bone marrow and supports the health of blood vessels. Sleep disruption, on the other hand, is directly associated with uncontrolled inflammatory cell production, which leads to out-of-control inflammation and heart disease.

Groundbreaking scientific studies like these are vital to our understanding of the human body and how to care for it so we may enjoy happy healthy lives. Keep an eye on the blog in coming weeks and months as we share more fascinating insights into the science of sleep and how you can ensure that you enjoy a revitalising night’s rest every time you put brow-to-pillow. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to a Bed King representative, or visit us in store if you would like to learn more about our range of comfort-graded mattresses and which one most suited to your requirements.

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