April 17, 2024

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Late nights could lead to clogged arteries, study finds

3 min read

Have you ever wondered how staying up late night might be related to your heart health?

Well, a recent study conducted by Sweden’s University of Gothenburg suggests that night owls are more prone to a common heart condition known as atherosclerosis.

This condition involves the hardening and narrowing of arteries, potentially leading to serious cardiovascular issues such as angina, blood clots, heart attacks, or strokes.

The findings of this study, published in the journal Sleep Medicine, underscore the importance of understanding the impact of our internal biological clock—known as the circadian rhythm—on our heart health.


How night owls are at increased risk of getting clogged artieries?

Night owls and heart risk (Image via Unsplash/Robina Weermeijer)
Night owls and heart risk (Image via Unsplash/Robina Weermeijer)

Past research has shown that staying up late night may not be good for our heart health.

However, this new study is taking it to the next level. It focuses on how the body’s internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, affects the health of our arteries. That’s significant because it’s the first time this specific connection is being explored.

The study involved 771 participants aged between 50 and 64. Among the participants, 144 identified as extreme morning types, often referred to as early birds, while 128 classified themselves as extreme evening types, commonly known as night owls.

The results were eye-opening. Of the early-morning types, 22.2% displayed signs of artery calcification, which indicates the least risk.

In contrast, a significant 40.6% of extreme evening types showed severe artery hardening, pointing to a higher risk.


Staying up late night impacts circadian rhythm

Night owls are at highest risk. (Image via Unsplash/Jerry)
Night owls are at highest risk. (Image via Unsplash/Jerry)

The other groups, categorized as moderately morning types, neither morning nor evening types, and moderately evening types, fell somewhere in the middle in terms of risk.

Lead author of the study, Mio Kobayashi Frisk, emphasizes that the association between being an extreme evening type (night owl) and coronary artery calcification is evident.

It implies that being a night owl not only affects overall cardiovascular health but specifically plays a role in the process leading to artery calcification.


Students and late night works are more prone to cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular diseases (Image via Unsplash/Robina Weermeijer)
Cardiovascular diseases (Image via Unsplash/Robina Weermeijer)

The researchers also highlighted other factors that contribute to artery hardening, like blood pressure, blood lipid levels, weight, activity level, stress, quality of sleep and smoking habits.

Combined with a disrupted circadian rhythm, these factors can significantly increase an individual’s risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Co-author Ding Zou stresses the fragility of the circadian rhythm, which can be readily disturbed by late nights and irregular sleep patterns.

Understanding the influence of our internal biological clock is crucial for both preventing and treating cardiovascular diseases.


Additional research suggests that even losing just a couple of hours of sleep can trigger anxiety, while getting sufficient sleep over the weekend has been associated with a reduced risk of heart attacks.

In conclusion, this study provides valuable insights into the connection between staying up late night, the disrupted circadian rhythm and the increased risk of developing clogged arteries. Night owls should be aware of the potential impact on their cardiovascular health and prioritize healthy sleep habits.

Establishing a regular sleep schedule, practicing good sleep hygiene, managing stress level and adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle can all play a part in reducing the risk of arterial hardening and maintaining a healthy heart.


As researchers continue to explore the intricacies of our biological clock and its influence on overall health, further understanding may help develop more specific preventive measures and targeted treatments for cardiovascular diseases.



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