Sleep is critical for the maintenance of physiological homeostasis and, as such, inadequate sleep beckons a myriad of pathologies. Sleep deprivation is a growing health concern in contemporary society since short sleep durations are associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk and atherosclerotic plaque development. Vascular endothelial dysfunction is an antecedent to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Herein, we review seminal literature indicating that short sleep durations attenuate endothelial function and explore more recent evidence indicating that sleep deprivation perturbs autonomic balance and the circadian rhythmicity of peripheral vascular clock components. We further examine literature that indicates a mechanistic link between short sleep duration and endothelial dysfunction and subsequent morbidity. Understanding the mechanisms that regulate endothelial function in the context of sleep deprivation facilitates the development and optimization of interventions, such as exercise, that mitigate the ramifications of inadequate sleep on vascular function and cardiovascular health.
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