Sleep is essential to good health, and massage has been found to reduce insomnia. Some spas have even developed sound-proof rooms for clients’ napping pleasure. New research shows that people who sleep poorly or do not get enough sleep have higher levels of inflammation.

Internal inflammation contributes to many maladies, including stroke and heart disease.

The results come from surveying 525 middle-aged people participating in the Morehouse-Emory Partnership to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities (META-Health) study on sleep quality and sleep duration.

Researchers from Emory University School of Medicine and Morehouse School of Medicine found acute sleep deprivation leads to an increased production of inflammatory hormones and changes in blood vessel function, but say that more research is needed on the physiological effects of chronic lack of sleep.

Individuals who reported six or fewer hours of sleep had higher levels of three inflammatory markers: fibrinogen, IL-6 and C-reactive protein, according to an Emory University press release. C-reactive protein is used extensively as a marker of inflammation and heart disease risk.

Previous research has shown that people who sleep between seven and eight hours per night live longest, and that especially short or especially long sleep durations bring higher mortality, the press release noted; and researchers find that short and long sleep durations are often seen together with high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and psychological stress, all risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

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