Winter 2011: Of Note

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Zzzzs lower risk of disease

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Too little sleep may be bad for more than just your concentration levels.

A group of Emory and Morehouse researchers found that poor sleep leads to inflammation in the body, which can be a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Specifically, those who reported getting six or fewer hours of sleep on a regular basis had higher levels of inflammatory markers, compared to those who reported six to nine hours of sleep.

The results come from 525 middle-aged people who participated in the Morehouse-Emory Partnership to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities (META-Health) study, which examined sleep quality and sleep duration and was codirected by leaders in cardiovascular research at both institutions.

Acute sleep deprivation leads to an increased production of inflammatory hormones and changes in blood vessel function, but more research is needed on the physiological effects of chronic lack of sleep, said Emory cardiology fellow Alanna Morris.

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