A study conducted by the University of Bonn in Germany has uncovered an alarming consequence of sleep deprivation: one bad night's sleep is all it can take to make your heart work roughly 10% harder the following day.
The study, which was presented last Friday to the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), looked at people who work in the emergency medical services and experience both little sleep and intense pressure.
Twenty healthy radiologists had their hearts pictured before and after a 24-hour working day where they only managed circa three hours' shut eye. Their blood pressure and heart rates were assessed and they also gave blood and urine samples.
The results revealed that not only did their hearts indicate signs of strain working 10% harder the following day (including increased heart rate and blood pressure) but their bodies had released thyroid hormones and cortisol – the hormone produced on account of stress – as well.
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The study author, Dr Daniel Kuetting, told The Telegraph, 'For the first time, we have shown that short-term sleep deprivation in the context of 24-hour shifts can lead to a significant increase in cardiac contractility, blood pressure and heart rate.'
'The study was designed to investigate real-life work-related sleep deprivation,' he went on to say. 'As people continue to work longer hours or work at more than one job to make ends meet, it is critical to investigate the detrimental effects of too much work and not enough sleep.'
Whilst this was only a small-scale study, it nonetheless indicates the importance of getting enough sleep on a day to day basis. To find out how to get the best night's sleep click here.