Keith Pugh, from the University of Birmingham, in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed chemosensitivity and endothelial function (measured by flow-mediated dilation) in eight participants assigned to either a sleep restriction protocol consisting of a baseline night of eight hours sleep, followed by three nights of four hours sleep, or a control protocol consisting of the same initial night followed by three nights of 10 hours of sleep opportunity.
The researchers found that, in the sleep restriction group, central chemosensitivity increased by 51.6 ± 9.4 percent after the second night of sleep restriction but returned to baseline after the third night. Central chemosensitivity remained unchanged in the control group. There was no difference in peripheral chemosensitivity between the two protocols. After the second night of sleep restriction, endothelial function decreased by 46.7 ± 1.6 percent but recovered after the third night. The control group did not experience changes in endothelial function.
"If acute sleep loss occurs repetitively over a long period of time, then vascular health could be compromised further and eventually mediate the development of cardiovascular disease," Pugh said in a statement.