Regular Rest Prevents Stressed-Out Heart
> 6/13/2007 12:38:22 PM

You've always heard that getting enough sleep is important for a productive and successful work day, but a new study suggests that sleep deprivation can put stress on your heart, raising your risk for both heart disease and death. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine agree with the documented neurological and behavioral effects of lack of sleep, which include lowered concentration and hand eye coordination. But their study expands on this and suggests that there is also a significant physiological price paid for lack of sleep.

According to the study, which will be presented at SLEEP 2007, the annual gathering of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Minneapolis, Minnesota, stress on the heart can be observed after only five days without adequate sleep. The researchers tested volunteers after a night in which they got 10 hours of sleep and again after five consecutive nights of only four hours of rest. The electrocardiograms revealed that following the nights of sleep deprivation, the volunteers had a much lower variability in their heart rate, a factor that describes the naturally occurring beat-to-beat changes in heart rate, reflecting the body's adjustment to a host of stresses and stimuli.

Assistant Professor and coordinator of the study, Siobhan Banks, said in a quote to Yahoo News:

"The effect of the sleep deficit was to increase the stress on the hearts of these volunteers. If our finding is sustained by a larger group and further analysis, it may suggest why short sleep duration is associated with a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality."

As we've all heard, the body is a machine which needs to have down time to recharge. With our hectic schedules, sometimes we rely too much on energy drinks and coffee to give us that extra push to make it through the day, when what we really need is just old fashioned sleep. Our advice? Just try not to catch up on all those Zs at work.

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