Either too little sleep or too much sleep can increase the risk of a heart attack, as well as heart disease and stroke, new research finds.
Although regular exercise, a balanced diet and avoiding smoking are important for heart health, the right amount of sleep is also critical.
Sleep duration is a vital health factor since a study of almost half a million people shows that less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours sleep will higher the chance of a heart attack dramatically.
Subjects who slept less than 6 hours nightly had a 20 percent higher chance of having a heart attack.
The risk was increased to 34 percent for those who had more than 9 hours sleep.
The risk of heart attack increased to 52 percent in people who slept five hours compared to those who had 7 to 8 hours sleep per night.
The risk was even higher for those who slept 10 hours as they had double the chance of having a heart attack.
People genetically prone to heart disease cut the risk by 18 percent when sleep duration was more than 6 hours, but less than 9 hours per night.
Mr Iyas Daghlas, the study’s first author said:
“It’s kind of a hopeful message, that regardless of what your inherited risk for heart attack is, sleeping a healthy amount may cut that risk just like eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and other lifestyle approaches can.”
Due to modern lifestyles, lack of sleep is spreading fast and resulting in serious global health issues.
Previous studies have suggested that less than 7 hours sleep will increase the chance of heart disease and stroke.
This study is taking a step further and showing the impact of sleep duration on heart health.
Lack of sleep can cause damage to the lining of the heart and blood vessels and increase inflammation in the body.
It also promotes unhealthy lifestyle behaviours such as ill-timed eating and poor dietary choices which leads to gaining weight, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Sleeping to much will also increase inflammation, cardiometabolic risk factors such as diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
Dr Celine Vetter, the study’s senior author, said:
“This provides some of the strongest proof yet that sleep duration is a key factor when it comes to heart health, and this holds true for everyone.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (Daghlas et al., 2019).