poor sleep heart, sleep health

A bad night’s sleep has been found to have poor effects on your physical health, increasing the risk of heart disease

Distinct effects of poor sleep have been found to have serious detriment to heart health, however, in combining these effects, the risk of heart disease can increase by as much as 141%.

Researchers focused on multiple aspects of sleep health – such as regularity, satisfaction, alertness during waking hours, timing of sleep, sleep efficiency and sleep duration – and correlated them to instances of physician-diagnosed heart disease.

From this study, it was concluded that each additional increase in self-reported poor sleep and sleep health problems was associated with a 54% increased risk of heart disease.

Luckily, the researchers note that sleep health can be modified – indicating that these findings can contribute to future prevention strategies to mitigate the risk of heart disease, which is currently the leading cause of death in the U.S.

Self-reported sleep problems led to wider investigations

Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the University of South Florida-led study reviewed sleep data of 6,820 U.S. adults amongst an average age of 53 who self-reported their sleep characteristics and heart disease history. 633 participants of this study additionally wore a research device (actigraphy) around their wrist that captured sleep activity, helping the examination.

Increase of sleep health problems were associated with a higher projected risk of heart disease associated for those who provided poor sleep data by both self-report and the research device – with a 141% increase – to which this figure was deemed more accurate by researchers.

The research team questioned the participants about their health, such as whether their physician confirmed a heart condition such as arrythmia, heart murmur or an enlarged heart.

However, high blood pressure was not considered a diagnosis as it was labelled a risk factor for heart disease rather than a heart disease condition. But the researchers also did controlled research for family history of heart disease and sociodemographic factors, such as race, sex, smoking, depression, and physical activity.

Lead author Soomi Lee, assistant professor of aging studies and director of the STEALTH lab at USF, said: “These findings show the importance of assessing ‘co-existing sleep health problems’ within an individual to capture the risk of heart disease. This is one of the first studies showing that, among well-functioning adults in midlife, having more sleep health problems may increase the risk of heart disease.

“The higher estimated risk in those who provided both self-report and actigraphy sleep data suggests that measuring sleep health accurately and comprehensively is important to increase the prediction of heart disease.”

Sleep health can be modified

From their research, they found that while women reported having more sleep health problems, men were more likely to suffer heart disease. However, gender did not impact the overall correlation between the two factors.

It was additionally found that Black participants had more sleep health problems and a higher prevalence of heart disease than white participants, but again, the strong association between sleep health and heart disease did not differ by race in general.

The researchers highlighted that while sleep health is vital at all ages, they primarily focused on middle adulthood as it spans for a longer period, and consists of diverse and more stressful life experiences due to work and family roles which correlate to the arise of precursors for heart disease and age-related sleep issues.


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