Catching up on missed sleep during the weekends does not offset cardiovascular costs from lack of sleep during weekdays. The corresponding study was published in Psychosomatic Medicine.
Previous research indicates that short sleep duration and poor quality sleep are linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease. A recent study also indicated that disruptions to the circadian rhythm caused by irregular sleep patterns may increase the risk for atherosclerosis or clogged arteries by disrupting cardiovascular function.
Between weekdays and weekends, many experience shifts in sleep duration due to work or school patterns. While it is commonly thought that any lack of sleep can be 'made up' on the weekends via a 'lie-in', whether or not this is true for sleep-related losses in cardiovascular health remains relatively unstudied. Understanding more about whether or not one can truly make up for lost sleep over the weekend could help inform cardiovascular health recommendations.
In the present study, researchers recruited 15 healthy men aged between 20 and 35 years old to participate in an 11-day inpatient sleep study. For the first three nights, the men slept up to 10 hours at night to establish a baseline level of sleep. On the following five nights, they slept five hours, and on the final two nights, the men were once again allowed to sleep for up to 10 hours. The researchers measured the participants' resting heart rates and systolic blood pressure every two hours during wakeful hours.
Ultimately, they found that participants' heart rate and blood pressure increased between the baseline and sleep deprivation periods. They further found that the measures did not recover to baseline levels following the final two nights of recovery sleep. Whereas heart rate and systolic blood pressure readings were 69 beats per minute (BPM) and 116 mmHg at baseline, they were 78 BPM and 119.5 mmHg by the end of the recovery period.
The researchers concluded that longer recovery periods may be necessary to return cardiovascular measures to baseline. Co-author of the study, Dr. Anne-Marie Chang, associate professor of biobehavioral health at Pennsylvania State University, said in a press release:
"Sleep is a biological process, but it's also a behavioral one and one that we often have a lot of control over. 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. As we learn more and more about the importance of sleep, and how it impacts everything in our lives, my hope is that it will become more of a focus for improving one's health."