A recently done study by the American Heart Association has led researchers to conclude that sleeping for less than six hours per night could more than double the risk of people with metabolic syndrome—which is a condition that affects greater than a third of the adult population of the US. Metabolic syndrome encompasses risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
“There’s a lot of hypotheses as to why this might be. We know that lack of sleep can change brain areas like the hypothalamus and hormone secretion to potentially increase appetite. [It] can turn on your sympathetic nervous system, the ‘fight or flight,’ which could raise your blood pressure,” Dr. Tara Narula, who is a cardiologist at Northwell Health, explained Thursday during her appearance on “CBS This Morning.” “It can change hormones secretion like growth hormone and cortisol, your stress hormone, that could cause imbalances in your glucose metabolism and regulation.”
In order to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, Narula reveals that a patient needs to exhibit a minimum of three of the following symptoms: “Elevated or enlarged waist circumference, low HDL [which implies having a ‘good’ cholesterol], high triglycerides, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar.”
This same study additionally was groundbreaking in the sense that it measured people’s sleep in a laboratory setting, according to Narula, as opposed to the more typical self-reported sleep studies being utilized to derive data for the experiment. The study also factored out sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, which increase cardiovascular risk, explained Narula.
“In this study they kind of took that out of the equation and really focused on just the duration of the sleep,” Narula asserted. However, she did continue on to add that the study only focused on a single participant per night.
According to Narula, seven to eight hours of sleep are the recommend amount for an adult per night—not including any additional hours of sleep attained by this adult through naps that occur over the course of the day.
Even without the risk factors, Narula accentuated the importance of sleep and asserted that everyone needs to practice good sleep hygiene. “We need to make it a priority,” she affirmed.
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