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Catching up on sleep during weekends doesn’t make a difference in your cardiovascular health: study

A woman is seen sleeping alongside her phone. (Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels) A woman is seen sleeping alongside her phone. (Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels)
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Researchers have discovered that catching up on sleep over the weekend because of sleep loss during the week doesn't return your heart rate and blood pressure level to normal, according to a new study.

Researchers from Penn State University shared the findings in a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine on Tuesday.

Researchers say when sleep is restricted to five hours per night during the week it worsens your cardiovascular health, including heart rate and blood pressure.

"Only 65 per cent of adults in the U.S. regularly sleep the recommended seven hours per night, and there's a lot of evidence suggesting that this lack of sleep is associated with cardiovascular disease in the long term," Anne-Marie Chang, co-author and associate professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, said in a news release Tuesday.

Researchers studied the sleep habits of 15 healthy men, aged 20 to 35, over an 11-day period. The first three nights, participants were allowed to sleep up to 10 hours per night to achieve a baseline sleep level.

The next five nights, participants' sleep was restricted to five hours per night followed by two recovery nights where they were, again, allowed to sleep up to 10 hours per night.

To measure the impact of sleep recovery on cardiovascular health, researchers noted the participants' resting heart rates and blood pressure every two hours during the day.

According to the study, participants' heart rate increased nearly one beat per minute (BPM) with each consecutive day of the study. The average baseline heart rate was 69 BPM, while the average baseline heart rate on the second recovery day was nearly 78 BPM.

Systolic blood pressure increased by about 0.5 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) per day, researchers said. The average baseline systolic blood pressure was 116 mmHg and was nearly 119.5 mmHg by the end of the recovery period.

Researchers measured participants' heart rate and blood pressure multiple times throughout the study, also accounting for how the time of day may impact cardiovascular health. Heart rate is naturally lower upon waking than later in the day, and measuring this consecutively can account for this difference, according to the study.

"Both heart rate and systolic blood pressure increased with each successive day and did not return to baseline levels by the end of the recovery period," lead author David Reichenberger said.

"So, despite having additional opportunity to rest, by the end of the weekend of the study, their cardiovascular systems still had not recovered," added Reichenberger.

Chang says longer periods of sleep recovery may be needed to recover from multiple, back-to-back nights of sleep loss.

"Sleep is a biological process, but it's also a behavioral one and one that we often have a lot of control over," Chang said. "Not only does sleep affect our cardiovascular health, but it also affects our weight, our mental health, our ability to focus and our ability to maintain healthy relationships with others, among many other things."

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