Poor sleep linked to buildup of dangerous plaques throughout body, study says

(CNN)Here's another reason why getting a good night's sleep should be on your must-do list: Sleeping fewer than six hours a night or waking frequently raises your risk of developing damaging plaque in arteries throughout your body, not just your heart.

Previous research has shown poor sleep to be strongly associated with coronary heart disease, but "This is the first study to show that objectively measured sleep is independently associated with atherosclerosis throughout the body," José Ordovás, director of nutrition and genomics at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, said in a statement. Ordovás was senior author of a study on these findings, published Monday in the journal of the American College of Cardiology.
    The increase of plaque, called atherosclerosis, in your extremities puts you at increased risk for strokes, digestive problems and poor circulation that leads to numbness and pain in your extremities, as well as heart disease.

      Objective measurements

      The study looked at nearly 4,000 Spanish men and women, with an average age of 46, who had no history of heart disease. Each person wore an actigraph, a small device that measured the length and quality of sleep, over seven nights. Quality of sleep was defined by how often they woke up and how often