top of page

Irregular sleeping habits may increase the risk of atherosclerosis in older adults.

Original Article By: NewMediaWire

Summarized By: Neurobit

New research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that inconsistent sleep habits, such as irregular sleep duration and sleep timing, may increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis in adults over the age of 45. Atherosclerosis is a condition where fatty deposits, known as plaque, build up on artery walls, causing them to narrow and potentially leading to heart attacks or strokes.

Participants, over 2,000 adults with an average age of 69, were drawn from the MultiEthnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), which included men and women between the ages of 45-84 who were free of clinical cardiovascular disease and recruited in six different communities across the US. Participants wore a wrist device that detected when they were asleep and awake, completed a sleep diary for seven consecutive days, and underwent a one-night, in-home sleep study to measure sleep disorders involving breathing, sleep stages, waking after sleep onset, and heart rate.

Researchers measured the presence of plaque in the arteries by assessing calcified fatty plaque buildup in arteries, fatty plaque buildup in neck arteries, thickness of the inner two layers of the neck arteries, and narrowed peripheral arteries. Data evaluated also included information from participant health records and questionnaires, such as age, sex, race and ethnicity, education, yearly income, work schedule, smoking status, alcohol consumption, physical activity, body mass index, blood pressure, sleep habits, and usual work schedules (night shift vs. day shift).

An analysis of the results of the study found that those who slept an inconsistent number of hours each night, with variations of more than 2 hours within one week, and those who fell asleep at different times, with variations of more than 90 minutes within one week, had a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis. The study's lead author, Kelsie Full, Ph.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of medicine in the division of epidemiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, noted that this study is one of the first investigations to provide evidence of a connection between irregular sleep duration and irregular sleep timing and atherosclerosis.

The study suggests that maintaining regular sleep schedules and decreasing variability in sleep can help reduce the cardiovascular risk for aging adults. While the cross-sectional nature of the study is a limitation, the results support further research on sleep irregularity and the development of cardiovascular disease risk. Poor sleep, including low quality, abnormal quantity, and fragmented segments, has been linked to heart disease, hypertension, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and other cardiovascular disease conditions. Sleep is also a key recommendation by the American Heart Association to improve and maintain optimal cardiovascular health.


NewMediaWire. (2022, January 17). Irregular sleeping habits may increase risk of atherosclerosis in older adults. Yahoo! Finance. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from

bottom of page