Catching up on sleep over the weekend may not help the heart

November 15, 2017, American Heart Association
Catching up on sleep over the weekend may not help the heart
Credit: American Heart Association

Using the weekend to catch up on sleep may not be good for heart health, a new study suggests.

The study, presented Tuesday at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions, included more than 21,000 older female health care professionals without a history of or cancer. Those who spent two or more hours catching up on over the weekend—what researchers call "sleep debt"—were more likely to have poor cardiovascular health.

Sleep expert Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Ph.D., said the findings suggest people who catch up on sleep over the weekend aren't counteracting the harmful effects of not getting enough sleep the rest of the week.

"You're not really salvaging yourself," said St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University Department of Medicine in New York City, who was not part of the new study.

It's best to get at least seven hours of sleep each night and to go to bed and wake at about the same time every day, she said.

Even after researchers accounted for factors such as income, education and overall stress, women with sleep debt were still worse off.

The news is especially troubling because women are living longer and report more sleep issues than men, said Michelle Albert, M.D., the study's senior researcher and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Women in the study were 72 years old on average.

Between 50 and 70 million U.S. adults don't get enough sleep or have , according to estimates from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Among people with acute coronary syndromes, which includes attacks and other sudden blockages of blood flow to the heart, about a third report having sleep disturbances, said Albert. She is the director of UCSF's NURTURE Center, which conducts research related to adversity, social determinants of health and cardiovascular disease.

Previous studies of sleep and cardiovascular disease have mostly focused on the total amount of sleep, not sleep debt, Albert said. A 2016 scientific statement from the American Heart Association reported that not sleeping enough, and insomnia can influence the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and .

What this latest study adds is more evidence that it's not only important to get enough sleep, but it's also important to not change sleep patterns from weekday to weekend, Albert said.

Sleep deprivation affects levels of the stress hormone cortisol, inflammation and our "fight or flight" hormones, which can increase weight and blood pressure, and contribute to cardiovascular disease, Albert said.

In addition, St-Onge said changing up the sleep routine on the weekends could negatively affect circadian rhythms and affect the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system and other factors affecting well-being and longevity.

"People tend to leave all healthy behaviors to the weekend," she said. "We call those people weekend warriors, who hit the gym on the but remain sedentary all week. Healthy behaviors, including healthy eating, exercise, and achieving , should occur throughout the week."

According to Albert, researchers need to learn more about how sleep debt specifically interacts with other and contributes to poor heart health.

Explore further: Sleep deprivation may increase risk of cardiovascular disease in older women

Related Stories

Sleep deprivation may increase risk of cardiovascular disease in older women

November 15, 2017
Older women who don't get enough sleep were more likely to have poor cardiovascular health, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017, a premier global exchange ...

Poor sleep is associated with ischemic heart disease and stroke

August 29, 2017
Poor sleep is associated with ischaemic heart disease and stroke, according to research presented today at ESC Congress. The observational study in nearly 13 000 people revealed different patterns of sleep disturbance between ...

How much sleep do you really need?

July 20, 2017
(HealthDay)—Health initiatives typically center on diet and fitness. But the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society state that getting enough sleep is just as important as eating right and exercising.

Sleep and Alzheimer's disease connection

October 17, 2017
How often do you get a good night's sleep? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend adults get an average of at least seven hours of sleep a night. Dr. Ronald Petersen, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, says ...

Research finds hot flashes, night sweats connected to obstructive sleep apnea risk in middle-aged women

November 9, 2017
In a new study published recently in Menopause, researchers have found that the hot flashes and night sweats faced by upward of 80 percent of middle-aged women may be linked to an increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep troubles, heart troubles?

September 20, 2016
(HealthDay)—Sleep disorders—including too little or too much sleep—may contribute to heart disease risk factors, the American Heart Association said in its first statement on the risks of sleep problems.

Recommended for you

Like shark attack and the lottery, unconscious bias influences cancer screening

August 17, 2018
What do shark attack, the lottery and ovarian cancer screening having in common? It turns out our judgments about these things are all influenced by unconscious bias.

Moderate carbohydrate intake may be best for health

August 17, 2018
Eating carbohydrates in moderation seems to be optimal for health and longevity, suggests new research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Phantom odors: One American in 15 smells odors that aren't there, study finds

August 16, 2018
Imagine the foul smell of an ash tray or burning hair. Now imagine if these kinds of smells were present in your life, but without a source. A new study finds that 1 in 15 Americans (or 6.5 percent) over the age of 40 experiences ...

US drug overdose deaths surge amid fentanyl scourge

August 16, 2018
US drug overdose deaths surged to nearly 72,000 last year, as addicts increasingly turn to extremely powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl as the supply of prescription painkillers has tightened.

Parental life span predicts daughters living to 90 without chronic disease or disability

August 15, 2018
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that women whose mothers lived to at least age 90 were more likely to also live to 90, free of serious diseases and disabilities.

Widespread declines in life expectancy across high income countries coincide with rising young adult, midlife mortality

August 15, 2018
The ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States is a key contributor to the most recent declines in life expectancy, suggests a study published by The BMJ today.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.