Why Your Heart Needs A Good Night’s Sleep
Six hours: That’s the minimum amount of sleep per night you need to help your heart stay healthy, new research suggests.
The study found that chronic lack of sleep and poor sleep quality raise the odds of fatty plaque accumulation in arteries — a condition known as atherosclerosis, which increases the odds of heart attack and stroke.
There are many ways to fight heart disease, including “pharmaceuticals, physical activity and diet,” said lead researcher Jose Ordovas. “But this study emphasizes we have to include sleep as one of the weapons we use to fight heart disease — a factor we are compromising every day.”
Ordovas is an investigator at the National Center for Cardiovascular Research in Madrid, Spain.
In the new research, his team used coronary ultrasound and CT scans to track the artery health of nearly 4,000 Spanish adults. The study participants, average age 46, did not have heart disease at the beginning of the study.
The study couldn’t prove cause and effect, but people who slept less than six hours a night were 27 percent more likely to have body-wide atherosclerosis than those who slept seven to eight hours a night, Ordovas and his colleagues reported.
Too much sleep wasn’t great for the heart, either. The study also found that women who slept more than eight hours a night had an increased risk of atherosclerosis.
Participants with “poor-quality” sleep — frequent awakenings or difficulty getting to sleep — were also 34 percent more likely to have atherosclerosis, compared to those with good-quality sleep.