New research suggests a link between lost sleep and an increase in risk factors for heart disease and stroke as it correlates with a higher risk of plaque buildup in blood vessels and a thickening of artery walls.

The University of Pittsburgh studied sleep problems common during menopause. They assessed 256 women, aged 40 to 60. Participants wore wrist monitors for three days to objectively assess sleep quality and answered questionnaires about their sleep and mood. They also had blood tests and artery ultrasounds performed.

For each hour of sleep lost, the blood vessel plaque buildup rose. The highest amount of thickening of the artery walls was found in women sleeping only five or six hours a night.

The link between poor sleep and heart disease risk has been known for some time, and this study reinforces the fact that not sleeping is detrimental to health.

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