People who sleep less than seven hours each night are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease, warn researchers.
The findings, published in the journal Experimental Physiology, show that people who sleep fewer than seven hours per night have lower blood levels of three physiological regulators, or microRNAs, which influence gene expression and play a key role in maintaining vascular health.
"This study proposes a new potential mechanism through which sleep influences heart health and overall physiology," said Christopher DeSouza, Professor at University of Colorado in the US.
For the study, the research team took blood samples from a small group of healthy men and women, age 44 to 62, who had filled out questionnaires about their sleep habits.
While half of the participants slept seven to 8.5 hours nightly, the other half slept five to 6.8 hours every night.