Sleep and Cholesterol Linked in Balancing Act

If you suffer from sleep problems, they may be linked to high cholesterol. Extensive studies have shown that both too little and too much sleep have negative impacts on cholesterol health. Additionally, studies have linked high cholesterol to other problems, like sleep apnea.

When we think of cholesterol problems, we usually think it’s all diet related. However, 75 percent of cholesterol is made in the liver. Because of that, lifestyle — including sleep patterns — has a substantial impact on cholesterol levels. Researchers studying, "1,666 men and 2,329 women over age 20, [found that] sleeping less than five hours at night raised the risk of high triglycerides and low HDL levels in women. Getting more than eight hours of sleep produced a similar result."

A massive study following more than 98,000 people between the ages of 40 and 79 for 14 years found that women who slept for four hours were twice as likely to die from heart disease than women who got seven hours of rest.

A different study found that sleep loss made changes to the genes that regulate cholesterol. A co-author on the paper, Vilma Aho, from the Univ. of Helsinki said, "The experimental study proved that just one week of insufficient sleep begins to change the body's immune response and metabolism." Worse still, they also saw, “an increase in genes that code for molecules that are pro-inflammatory (cytokines) as well as C-reactive protein (CRP) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), which in themselves, are risk factors for developing heart disease.”

As little as one extra hour of sleep can help your body. Trying to get “enough” rest can be stressful. If you attempt to get seven or eight hours when you are unused to it, you can become anxious when you don’t accomplish the task. You may sleep more poorly than had you not been trying! Instead, go to bed earlier in small increments. It can be just five minutes sooner than you would otherwise. Taking little steps can help you make it to an ultimate goal without it being daunting.

April 19, 2019

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