Have you been compromising on your sleep lately? Is the pressure at workplace becoming too cumbersome for you, or are there some personal commitments making it difficult for you to catch up on your much needed sleep. It is time you re-look your schedule and find some time to accommodate seven to eight hours of sleep daily. According to a latest study, published in the journal Nature, insufficient sleep increases the risk of serious problems, including cardiovascular disease.
The study was conducted by a group of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The team identified a previously unknown mechanism by which sleep protects against the build-up of arterial plaques. According to researchers, this mechanism may serve as a potential treatment option.
The study described the mechanism between brain, bone marrow and blood vessels, by which insufficient sleep increases inflammatory white blood cells known to be major contributors to hardening of the arteries, reports Xinhua.
“We have discovered that sleep helps to regulate the production in the bone marrow of inflammatory cells and the health of blood vessels and that, conversely, sleep disruption breaks down control of inflammatory cell production, leading to more inflammation and more heart disease,” said co-author Filip Swirsk.
“We also have identified how a hormone in the brain known to control wakefulness controls processes in the bone marrow and protects against cardiovascular disease,” Swirsk added.
For the study, the team interrupted the sleep of mice – the pattern of interruptions was similar to the experience of someone constantly waking up.
The findings revealed that the sleep-deprived mice developed progressively larger arterial plaques and were also found to have twice the level of certain inflammatory cells like monocytes and neutrophils in their blood vessels.
The mice also showed lower amounts of a hormone called hypocretin made by the brain that plays a role in regulating sleep. The researchers said that the hypocretin regulated the white blood cell production through interaction with neutrophil progenitors in the bone marrow.
The study demonstrated molecular connections linking blood and cardiovascular risk factors to sleep health.
“This is a direct demonstration that hypocretin is also an important inflammatory mediator,” Swirski said.
According to the study, targeting the newly-discovered mechanism could be a breakthrough, which in near future may lead to advanced treatments for heart disease and sleep disorders.
Sleep Inducing Foods:
Your diet plays an intrinsic role in the quality of your sleep and sleep-wake cycle. Some foods and herbs are naturally enriched with compounds that are known to promote sleep. Here are some foods that may induce sleep naturally:
1. Bananas: Bananas are enriched with tryptophan that helps stimulation of serotonin. Serotonin helps calm nerves and ease anxiety, which helps promote good sleep. The good carb content of bananas also play a crucial role in inducing sleep.
2. Cherries: Cherries are packed with melatonin that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Make sure you do not have more than 10 cherries a day.
3. Almonds: Almonds are considered excellent to boost brain power; they are also good source of magnesium that helps relax muscles. A good source of tryptophan, almonds helps you fall asleep by calming you down.
4. Milk: A hot glass of milk is one of Ayurveda’s most trusted remedies to fall asleep. Milk again is a very good source of tryptophan.