The medical community already knew that routinely not getting enough sleep can increase high blood pressure, but a new study shows mild sleep disturbances and poor sleep quality also put women at risk.
Researchers studied 323 healthy women ages 20 to 79 who had participated in an ongoing American Heart Association Go Red for Women research program. The women wore devices that tracked the onset, duration and quality of their sleep.
“The women who experienced mild sleep disturbances, including delays in falling asleep and waking up during the night, were significantly more likely to have high blood pressure than those who fell sleep quickly and slept soundly,” according to a June 28 Forbes article.
In a follow-up study, a subset of the women allowed researchers to take endothelial cell samples to measure levels of a protein linked to inflammation and heart disease.
“Our findings suggest that mild sleep problems could possibly initiate the vascular endothelial inflammation that’s a significant contributor to cardiovascular disease,” lead study author Brooke Aggarwal told Forbes. Aggarwal is a behavioral scientist in the Department of Medicine at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York.
“The results of this study are especially concerning because they held true even for women who were sleeping anywhere from seven to nine hours a night — what would normally be considered a healthy range. And most women in the study didn’t have major problems like obstructive sleep apnea, which is already strongly associated with cardiovascular disease,” David DiSalvo wrote in the article. The study was published June 9 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.