Making up for lack of sleep over the weekend will not undo the harm, new study shows

Sleep is important for cardiovascular health, scientists say.
Sleep is important for cardiovascular health, scientists say. Copyright Canva
By Euronews
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A new study shows that heart rate and blood pressure also worsen over the week if you sleep just five hours per night.


Trying to make up sleep over the weekend will not undo the damage of not getting enough sleep during the week, new research shows.

A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that blood pressure and heart rate did not return to baseline measures for people who tried to recover after sleeping just five hours a night for five days.

“There's a lot of evidence suggesting that… lack of sleep is associated with cardiovascular disease in the long-term,” said Anne-Marie Chang, associate professor of bio-behavioural health at Penn State University and co-author of the study, in a statement.

“Our research reveals a potential mechanism for this longitudinal relationship, where enough successive hits to your cardiovascular health, while you're young, could make your heart more prone to cardiovascular disease in the future”.

To carry out the study, the researchers analysed 15 healthy men between the ages of 20 and 35 over the course of 11 days.

The first three days the participants slept 10 hours per night, followed by five nights where their sleep was restricted to five hours per night. Then they were given two recovery nights to sleep 10 hours.

The researchers measured the participants’ heart rate and blood pressure multiple times a day during the study to determine their cardiovascular health. This is in part because heart rates can change throughout the day.

They found that both heart rate and blood pressure increased with each day that the men did not sleep enough, and it did not return to normal levels by the end of the two recovery nights.

“Despite having additional opportunity to rest, by the end of the weekend of the study, their cardiovascular systems still had not recovered,” Chang explained in a statement.

The researchers concluded that longer recovery sleep could be necessary to recover from multiple nights of not sleeping enough.

Sleep deprivation a global problem

According to a 2019 survey, roughly 62 per cent of adults feel that they don’t sleep well when they go to bed.

Sleep deprivation is known to lead to long-term health problems including reduced cardiovascular health, diabetes, obesity, and depression.

Blood pressure, for instance, goes down during normal sleep, so not getting enough sleep means it stays higher for longer.

Around 22 per cent of people in the EU have high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease.

Adults are recommended to get at least seven hours of sleep per night, and to get a better sleep the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends sticking to a regular schedule.

It also recommends getting enough physical activity and avoiding artificial light, eating and drinking within a few hours of bedtime.

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