A recent study published in the European Heart Journal—Open has revealed that sleeping less than five hours per night could increase the risk of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD) by up to 74%. This condition affects over 200 million people globally and can lead to a reduced flow of blood to the legs, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Sleep duration and risk of peripheral artery disease
The study included over 650,000 participants and was conducted in two parts. The researchers first analyzed the associations of sleep duration and daytime napping with the risk of PAD, followed by a genetic data analysis using naturally randomized controlled trials called Mendelian randomization to examine causality of the associations.
Dr. Yuan, the lead author of the study, stated that insufficient sleep has previously been associated with a raised risk of coronary artery disease, which is also caused by clogged arteries. In addition, sleeping problems are among the top-ranked complaints in PAD patients. However, there is limited data on the impact of sleep habits on PAD and vice versa, and the study aimed to fill that gap.
Short sleep associated with nearly doubled risk of PAD
The study revealed that the strongest evidence was for short sleep, where the relationship with PAD went both ways. Sleeping less than five hours per night was associated with a nearly doubled risk of PAD compared to seven to eight hours. This finding was supported by further analyses in 156,582 and 452,028 individuals. In the causal studies, short sleep was associated with an increased risk of PAD, and in addition, PAD was associated with an increased likelihood of short sleep.
Regarding long sleep, sleeping eight hours or more per night was linked with a 24% higher risk of PAD compared to seven to eight hours. However, no causal relationships were found between long sleep and PAD. Similar results were reported for napping, where daytime nappers had a 32% higher risk of PAD compared to those who did not nap, but no causal links were found.
Dr. Yuan said, “The results indicate that brief night-time sleep can raise the chance of developing PAD, and that having PAD increases the risk of getting insufficient sleep.” He added that more studies are needed on the relationships between lengthy night-time sleep, daytime napping, and PAD.
While observational analyses are limited by reverse causality, Mendelian randomization is a robust method for evaluating causality and provides more certainty about the results. The study highlights the importance of sufficient sleep for maintaining good cardiovascular health and preventing the onset of PAD.
More research needed to confirm causality and interrupt bidirectional link between short sleep and PAD
Dr. Yuan suggests that lifestyle changes that help people get more sleep, such as being physically active, may lower the risk of developing PAD. For patients with PAD, optimizing pain management could enable them to have a good night’s sleep. More research is needed on how to interrupt the bidirectional link between short sleep and PAD.
Previous research has shown that lack of sleep can lead to an increase in blood pressure, which can cause damage to the arteries. The new study further highlights the importance of getting enough sleep for maintaining good cardiovascular health.
In conclusion, the study shows that sleeping less than five hours per night is associated with a significantly increased risk of developing PAD. This highlights the importance of getting sufficient sleep to maintain good cardiovascular health. Further research is needed to explore the relationships between sleep habits and PAD and to identify strategies to interrupt the bidirectional link between short sleep and PAD.