In a new study, researchers found the reason why good nights’ sleep may help protect against heart disease.
The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among adults in the United States.
On the other hand, poor sleep is a major public health problem affecting millions of people. Fewer than half of adults in the United States get seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
Previously, researchers have linked sleep problems to higher risks of chronic health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
However, they have known little about the mechanism behind the link between sleep and heart health.
In the study, the team discovered a new mechanism between the brain, bone marrow, and blood vessels that appear to protect against hardening of the arteries in mice.
The mechanism exists only when sleep is healthy and sound.
Their results showed sleep fragmentation can decrease the brain’s production of the hormone hypocretin, causing inflammation in the bone marrow and damage the blood vessels.
In the study, the mice with disrupted sleep developed progressively larger arterial lesions compared to the other mice.
Moreover, the sleep-disrupted mice had arterial plaques that were almost one-third larger than the mice with normal sleep.
These sleep-disrupted mice also produced twice the level of certain inflammatory cells in their circulatory system and less hormone in controlling sleep and wake states.
The team believes they help to understand how a good night’s sleep protects against heart disease.
They hope their finding could lead to new treatments for heart disease, sleep, and other disorders one day.
The new discovery shows the importance of getting enough, quality sleep to maintain heart health and could provide new targets for fighting heart disease.
Future work needs to validate these findings in humans.
The lead author of the study is Filip Swirski, Ph.D., associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
The study is published in Nature.
Copyright © 2019 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.