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HomeWellnessLifestyleHow do the length and quality of sleep affect cardiovascular health? 

How do the length and quality of sleep affect cardiovascular health? 

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology published results on the importance of sleep on cardiovascular health.

The discussion on the importance of sleep for one’s health and body has been widely discussed and researched. Whether through experience or scientific evidence, there is a global standpoint that sleep is a vital process for both physical and mental health. The importance of sleep can be boiled down to the processes of the body during this time; as we sleep, the body works to repair itself, support healthy brain function, and more. Although, despite these benefits, there is a lack of evidence linking the importance of sleep to specific organ health functions, specifically cardiovascular health effects on the entire body.

Determining the importance of sleep on cardiovascular health

The key objective for the researchers at the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) was to evaluate the relationship between the duration and quality of sleep, and asymptomatic atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, which results as a build-up of plaque in the arteries throughout the body, was chosen as the condition to investigate due to its cardiovascular nature of.

For the study, the researchers drew data from over 3000 participants in the Progression of Early Subclinical Atherosclerosis (PESA) study and categorized them into four groups:

  1. Very short sleep duration (less than 6 hours)
  2. Short sleep duration (6-7 hours)
  3. Reference sleep duration (7-8 hours
  4. Long sleep duration (more than 8 hours)

The quality of sleep was also accounted for and was defined by how often an individual woke up throughout the night and their frequency of movements. Finally, vascular ultrasound and cardiac computed tomography (CT) scan were used to track the progression of atherosclerosis in each participant. They published their results in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Both short and long sleepers both had an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis

After accounting for the traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the researchers found that those in the very short sleep duration group had a 27% increased risk of developing atherosclerosis when compared to the reference group. Comparably, participants who experienced poor sleep quality had a 34% increased risk of atherosclerosis development in contrast to those who had a good quality of sleep. However, the importance of sleep and increased risks are not to be restricted to only a lack thereof sleep. The study also showed that those in the long sleep duration group were linked to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, especially women.

In all, the importance of sleep is highlighted frequently throughout science. Yet, there is a limited amount of research for the link between sleep and cardiovascular health throughout the body. Indicated from the press release, one of the researchers stated, “this is the first study to show that objectively measured sleep is independently associated with atherosclerosis throughout the body, not just in the heart.”.  As the first of its kind being done, this study shows the importance of sleep and how disrupted duration and quality can lead to negative changes that affect the entire body.

Written by Stephanie C. Tsang


  1. Domínguez, F., Fuster, V., Fernández-Alvira, J., Fernández-Friera, L., López-Melgar, B., Blanco-Rojo, R.,  … Ordovás, J. (2019). Association of Sleep Duration and Quality With Subclinical Atherosclerosis [Abstract]. Journal of the American College of Cardiology,73(2). Retrieved from
  2. Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency. (2019). Retrieved from
  3. The duration and quality of sleep is of vital importance in cardiovascular health. (2019, January 14). Retrieved from


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