April 25, 2016

Finnish study highlights health impact of sufficient sleep

Lack of sleep has previously been found to impact the activation of the immune system, inflammation, carbohydrate metabolism and the hormones that regulate appetite. Now researchers found that sleep loss also influences cholesterol metabolism.
iStock.com/PongsakornJun

A research by the University of Helsinki finds that sleep loss is detrimental to blood vessels. The researchers behind the study emphasise good, sufficient sleep in preventing common diseases.

The study demonstrates that getting too little sleep causes changes in the metabolism of cholesterol. The study further reveals that long-term sleep loss may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular diseases are known to be linked to both metabolism and the immune system. Sleep loss has been demonstrated to cause low-grade inflammatory state in the body. This may contribute to the higher risk of disease. Lack of sleep has also been found to impact the hormones that regulate appetite.

Researchers discovered that the genes which participate in the regulation of cholesterol transport are less active in persons suffering from sleep loss than with those getting sufficient sleep. People who sleep less than they should also have fewer HDL lipoproteins, commonly known as good cholesterol transport proteins, than persons who slept sufficiently.

“The experimental study proved that just one week of insufficient sleep begins to change the body’s immune response and metabolism,” says Vilma Aho, researcher from the Sleep Team Helsinki research group.

The results of the study help to explain, together with other risk factors, the higher risk of cardiovascular disease observed in sleep-deprived people. The researchers highlight the importance of good, sufficient sleep in addition to healthy food and exercise in preventing common diseases.

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