We all know that long-term sleep deprivation can be bad for your health, but just a few nights of poor sleep can’t be that bad, right? Think again. A new study has found that even short-term sleep deprivation can have serious consequences, such as increases in heart rate and blood pressure. These results further emphasize the importance of adequate sleep for our overall health.
The study showed for the first time that even short-term sleep deprivation, defined as poor rest over the course of a 24-hour period, can cause health troubles. Following short-term sleep deprivation, study volunteers showed significant increases in blood pressure and heart rate and significant increases in the levels of a number of hormones related to stress.
“Cardiac function in the context of sleep deprivation has not previously been investigated with CMR strain analysis, the most sensitive parameter of cardiac contractility,”said study author Daniel Kuetting, M.D., from the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at the University of Bonn in Germany, in a recent statement. “These findings may help us better understand how workload and shift duration affect public health.”
For the study, 20 volunteers (19 men and one woman) underwent cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging with strain analysis before and after a 24-hour shift with an average of three hours of sleep. The researchers also collected blood and urine samples from the participants and measured blood pressure and heart rate.
According to Kuetting, this mimics actual sleep deprivation, although volunteers “were not permitted to consume caffeine or food and beverages containing theobromine, such as chocolate, nuts or tea.” In addition, individual stress and environmental factors were also not taken into account.
In the long run, chronic poor sleep can lead to even more health issues, such as decreased daytime performance, memory and cognitive impairment, and increased risk of injury.