Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Sleep — or the lack thereof — was the focus of research at Columbia University Irving Medical Center to study how restricted vs. adequate sleep patterns can affect cardiovascular health

The study recruited 20 post-menopausal and 20 pre-menopausal women, excluding participants with underlying conditions such as depression or other factors that could influence sleep degradation. Once participants were selected, they were first studied during adequate sleep periods and then instructed to reduce their sleep nightly by an hour and a half for a six-week period. Monitoring included blood work, sleep diaries, tracking wristwatches and, at the end, ambulatory blood pressure monitors. 

Co-Director Research Overview

Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, Center co-director at Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD
Lori Mosca, MD, PhD, MPH, Center co-director at Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Lori Mosca, MD, PhD, MPH
There’s very little information about the negative influence of poor sleep in older adults and women transitioning across menopause,” said Center Directors, Marie-Pierre St.-Onge, Ph.D., and Lori Mosca, MD. PhD, MPH

“We had done studies that showed that restricting sleep — very severely restricting sleep — increased food intake and could lead to obesity, which increases the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease,” St.-Onge said. “We thought, perhaps, there’s specifically in women, a link between poor, short sleep duration and cardiovascular disease.” 

“What we did was restrict sleep but to a smaller extent than we had done in the past — but for a longer period of time, which reflects more closely what short sleepers actually do in the general population,” St-Onge said.

"Blood results and other data are still being analyzed, but findings so far can already teach lessons for the general population and health care professionals," St.-Onge said.

Not only were blood pressure readings better when women received adequate sleep; stable schedules, including regular bedtime and rising times, also seemed to improve circadian rhythms and other markers.

“It’s important for the population and health practitioners to know that sleep quality is something that should be asked about in health encounters. Just as you would ask about diet, just as you would take blood pressure and weight, just as you would ask about a person’s mood, you should be asking about their sleep,” St.-Onge said.

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