These remarkable facts were recently shared by Dr Alanna Morris, a cardiology fellow at the Atlanta University School of Medicine, at the American Heart Association 2010 Scientific Sessions in Chicago. This community study took information from 525 middle-aged subjects of whom 47% were African American and 61% were women. The participants were asked about their sleep pattern, quality and duration.
The group was also tested for inflammatory markers – the presence of C-reactive protein (CRP), IL-6 and fibrinogen. Those whose CRP levels are 3mh per liter or more are known to be at twice the risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack compared to those with lower levels.
In the test, those who had lower sleep quality and duration were found to have the highest levels of CRP, IL-6 and fibrinogen. However, those who had 6-9 hours of sleep per night did not show significant symptoms of inflammation.
The study concluded that "poor sleep quality and short sleep durations are associated with higher levels of inflammation." These higher levels of inflammation are always associated with higher levels of risk for heart diseases, so something as simple as improving the quality of sleep and the sleep duration itself would dramatically improve the health and lifespan of a person, eliminating the risks of heart diseases and strokes caused by inflammation.
Previous research has shown that people who sleep between seven and eight hours per night live longest, and that especially short or especially long sleep durations are linked with higher mortality. Sleeping for more than nine hours per night can have a negative affect on health, as it possibly reflects a compensation for sleep apnea, with the associated poor quality sleep.
Therefore, improving sleep quality and duration is now being considered an appropriate therapeutic method for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease as the link between lack of sleep and inflammation has now been officially recognized.