In order to maintain good health, you need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Cardiovascular disease is among the health problems that occur due to insufficient sleep.
An online publication at Massachusetts General Hospital shows how sleep deprivation can lead to excessive production of white blood cells which in turn leads to atherosclerosis. The report discovered that the production of inflammatory cells and the health of blood vessels in the bone marrow are regulated by sleep. When a person lacks sufficient sleep, the production of inflammatory cells is interfered with causing inflammation in the body and the development of cardiovascular disease. Swirski further says that a hormone found in the brain that controls being awake controls the production of inflammatory cells and blood vessels in the bone marrow hence protecting against cardiovascular disease.
To illustrate how sleep reduces atherosclerosis, his team used genetically programmed mice to develop atherosclerosis and subjected them to interrupted sessions of sleep. This acted as a situation in human life where a person lacks sleep due to intermittent interruptions by such things as noise. This experiment was conducted with other mice which were allowed to sleep with no interruptions. Results showed that the mice that underwent sleep interruptions developed arterial plaques which is a contributing symptom to atherosclerosis.
A further result from the experiment showed that the sleep-deprived mice had an excessive production of white blood cells in the bone marrow. Additionally, it had very low levels of hypocretin. Hypocretin is a hormone produced in the brain that regulates the production of white blood cells.
In conclusion, according to Swirski, hypocretin helps reduce diseases caused by lack of sleep. He says there is a need to conduct further studies on how sleep affects cardiovascular diseases and research on a neuro-immune axis which has been discovered recently.