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According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute, inadequate sleep can significantly increase the likelihood of developing clogged leg arteries. The study found that individuals who sleep for less than five hours per night have a 74% higher risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD) than those who sleep for seven to eight hours.

Lack of enough sleep associated with PAD

PAD is a condition that affects over 200 million individuals worldwide and leads to the blockage of arteries in the legs, which can cause restricted blood flow and an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke.

According to Dr Shuai Yuan, the lead researcher of the study, getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night can be a beneficial habit in reducing the likelihood of developing PAD. Inadequate sleep at night and daytime napping has been linked to an increased risk of coronary artery disease, which, similar to PAD, is due to blockages in the arteries. Yuan added that sleeping problems are the leading complaint among PAD patients. However, there is limited information on sleep habits’ impact on PAD that the study sought to address.

A study analyzed the connection between peripheral artery disease (PAD) and sleep duration/daytime napping. The team used both observational analysis and Mendelian randomization.

No causal relationship between sleeping for longer and PAD

The lead researcher, Yuan, notes that observational analyses suffer from the limitation of reverse causality. This means that if a relationship between sleep habits and PAD is established, it is unclear if sleep habits cause PAD or if having PAD causes changes in sleep habits. The team employed Mendelian randomization to address reverse causality, thus giving certainty about the findings.

Excessive sleep may pose a potential risk as studies suggest a 24% increase in the likelihood of peripheral artery disease (PAD) risk among adults who slept for more than 8 hours. Nevertheless, the employment of the Mendelian randomization technique revealed no causal association between extended sleep and PAD. The results were the same for those who loved napping, whose PAD risk was 32% but without any causal links established.