NIH grant will chart the impact of a good night’s sleep on heart health

Devon Dobrosielski

Tossing and turning all night might do more than make you cranky. It could adversely affect your heart.

Backed by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, an assistant professor in the College of Health Professions is conducting a study to see if there is a connection between sleep and heart health.

Devon Dobrosielski, assistant professor of kinesiology, received an Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) grant of $446,000 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The three-year project will examine the impact of sleep apnea on an individual’s ability to improve cardiovascular health with exercise.

“The importance of sleep behavior and treatment of sleep disorders on our health is underappreciated,” Dobrosielski says. “Sleep may have a huge impact on our ability to improve health and well-being with lifestyle change.” His research will evaluate whether the beneficial effects of exercise on vascular function are reduced in obese people who suffer from untreated obstructive sleep apnea.

Dobrosielski is recruiting 60 men and women between the ages of 30-65 who are overweight and sedentary, or snore heavily. They will participate in an overnight sleep study, cardiovascular testing and six weeks of exercise.

Dobrosielski has spent most of his career affirming the connections between diet, exercise, sleep and cardiovascular health.

Before coming to Towson University in 2012, he managed clinical trials examining the cardiovascular consequences of different diets and exercise in those who suffer from chronic diseases. One of his first projects at TU examined the relationship between physical activity, vascular health and self-reported sleep quality.