How Sleep Loss Affects Your Heart

Sleeping for five hours a night alters your heart rate the next day

Getting too little sleep has been shown to have bad effects on the heart, and many studies have linked it to hypertension. Now, a small new study published in the journal Hypertension finds that shortened sleep is connected to some negative markers, especially when it occurs outside of typical nighttime hours.

In the study, which was conducted at a University of Chicago sleep lab, 26 healthy young adults were assigned to a week of shortened sleep, with just five hours of shut-eye each night. Half of the people slept during normal nighttime hours, and half slept during the day—a schedule familiar to shift workers, who don’t keep typical 9-5 work hours. The researchers measured blood pressure and heart rate during the day, urinary levels of norepinephrine, a stress hormone that can raise blood pressure, and heart rate variability, the variation of beat-to-beat intervals used as an indicator for cardiovascular risk.

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