Sleep Duration Linked to Heart Disease and Stroke Risk
A startling number of people take a good night sleep for granted, despite the mounting body of evidence to support a restful sleep between six and eight hours every evening. In the past, studies have made a loose correlation between the numbers of hours of sleep each night and risk of diseases ranging from cancer to cardiovascular disease and dementia. Researchers from the University of Chicago are presenting the result of a study to the American College of Cardiology that explains a direct link between sleeping a minimum of six hours each night and dramatically increased risk of stroke, heart attack and congestive heart failure.
Sleeping Less Than Six Hours Each Night Doubles Heart Attack Risk
The study team found that individuals sleeping much more than eight hours each night had a significantly higher prevalence of chest pain or angina and coronary artery disease, a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the heart with blood and oxygen. The bottom line is simple: controlling the duration of restful sleep in a totally darkened room is a modifiable risk factor that can significantly reduce risk of heart diseases and related chronic illnesses.
Researchers examined 3,019 patients, aged 45 years or older participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, designed to assess a broad range of health issues. The study showed that people getting less than six hours of sleep each night were two times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack and 1.6 times more likely to have congestive heart failure. Conversely, those individuals that slept more than eight hours a night were two times more likely to have angina and 1.1 times more likely to have coronary artery disease.
Sleep is a Heart Disease Risk Factor, Comparable to Diet and Exercise
Clearly the duration and quality of sleep is an identifiable risk factor for heart disease, robbing your health in a similar manner to poor dietary choices and lack of physical activity. The principal study investigator, Dr. Rohit Arora stated, “We now have an indication that sleep can impact heart health, and it should be a priority… based on these findings, it seems getting six to eight hours of sleep everyday probably confers the least risk for cardiovascular disease over the long term.”
While this research did not directly determine how sleep duration affects heart health, past studies have implicated hyper-activation of the sympathetic nervous system, glucose intolerance, diabetes, increased cortisone levels, blood pressure, resting heart rate and inflammatory markers, all known risk factors for increased risk of cardiovascular disease. As researchers continue to determine the link between sleep and heart disease, the message is clear: ensure a restful sleep between six and eight hours each night in a fully darkened room to dramatically lower heart disease risk.
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John Phillip is a diet, health and nutrition researcher and writer with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives.
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Article updated on: August 31st, 2012