Monday, April 06, 2009

Can Sleep Adequately Prevent Heart Disease?

Previous studies have pointed out that getting too little sleep would yield negative health consequences. For instance, little sleep has been shown to raise the risk of depression, obesity and high blood pressure for children. Inadequate sleep, on the other hand, will increase the risk of fall for older adults while raise the chance of getting cancer, heart disease, infections and stroke for people in their middle ages.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults typically require between 7 and 9 hours of nightly sleep.

United States researchers from the University at Buffalo in New York said on March 11, 2009 that people who sleep less than 6 hours at night are prone to abnormal blood sugar levels, thus raising their chance of getting diabetes. In fact, people taking part in the study with fewer than 6 hours of sleep were 4.5 times more likely to develop abnormal blood sugar readings in 6 years compared with those who slept longer. The findings were presented at the Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention in Palm Harbor, Florida.

Type-2 diabetes is driven by rising rates of obesity and sedentary lifestyles. It frequently strikes a person when the body makes too much insulin and does not effectively use it. Such condition is also known as insulin resistance.

In order to see if lack of sleep can raise the risk for Type-2 diabetes, the researchers used the data obtained from a large 6-year study. 91 people whose blood sugar rose during the study period were identified and their data were compared to 273 people whose glucose levels remained in the normal range.

During the study period, those who slept less were more likely than those who slept 6 to 8 hours to develop impaired fasting glucose, which is a condition that can lead to Type-2 diabetes. Even after adjusting for age, family history of diabetes, heart rate, high blood pressure and symptoms of depression, the differences remained.

Based on the findings of the current study, the researchers hope that more research will be carried out into this very complex area of sleep and illness.

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