Sleep health is a national concern with almost 40% of Australians suffering from sleep problems.
Inadequate sleep at night (that is, not having the recommended duration between 7–9hrs) is associated with increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Despite this well known link between inadequate sleep and hypertension, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Sympathetic overactivity is thought to play a role, however to date studies utilising gold-standard measurement of sympathetic activity in inadequate sleepers are lacking.
In this novel study we utilise muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) recordings to investigate how inadequate sleep affects the regulation of sympathetic activation. Recording MSNA involves a technique known as microneurography and records sympathetic activity directly from the nerve via a fine microelectrode. This project also employs techniques to measure sleep (brain wave activity, muscle tone, eye movements, heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation) using home-based polysomnography and/or actigraphy (activity monitoring).
The proposed project will provide the first evidence of whether inadequate sleep negatively impacts sympathetic control of blood pressure. If successful, inadequate sleep will represent a potential target for risk modification to improve cardiovascular health.