This site is intended for health professionals only

Sleep "can prevent heart disease"

Research shows getting a good night's sleep can prevent arteries getting clogged up and reduce the risk of heart disease.

The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (Cardia) study found that out of 495 men and women in their 40s, those that were light sleepers suffered more artery damage over a five-year period.

Researchers found that calcified deposits, which narrow blood vessels, built up in the coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart of the people who got less sleep.

Initial computed tomography (CT) X-ray scans found none of the volunteers showed any sign of calcification, but over the five years the problem developed in 60 of the participants.

Calcified arteries were found in 27% of volunteers who slept for less than five hours a night. That figure dropped to 11% for participants sleeping five to seven hours, and 6% for those who spent more than seven hours asleep.

The results showed that one extra hour of sleep could reduce the risk of calcification by a third. The benefits were found to be greater for women.

Dr Diane Lauderdale, associate professor of health studies at the University of Chicago Medical Center who led the research, said: "We can only speculate why those with shorter average sleep duration were more likely to develop calcification."

Copyright © Press Association 2008

University of Chicago Medical Center

We asked you if greater recognition should be given to the value of a good night's sleep. Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Absolutely – provided that we don't start prescribing more drugs to induce deeper sleep. Of course, the people affected by this 'finding' would be shift workers like ourselves." - Jeane McComasky, Germany