Sleep disorders can contribute to heart disease risk factors, as discovered by the American Heart Association (AHA). Unfortunately, the Association is still uncertain about the appropriate amount of sleep to recommend to people in order to protect their heart.
Marie-Pierre St-Onge from the AHA said in a news release, “We know that short sleep, usually defined as under seven hours per night, overly long sleep, usually defined as more than nine hours per night, and sleep disorders may increase some cardiovascular risk factors, but we don’t know if improving sleep quality reduces those risk factors.”
The scientists reviewed existing research on sleep and heart health. Majority of the studies focused on insomnia, which is difficulty sleeping for at least three nights a week over the course of three months or more. Another area of study was sleep apnea, a condition in which a person stops breathing for a moment a few times a night while asleep. “Those are the two main conditions in which there are intervention studies that show that risk factors are increased when sleep is altered,” added St-Onge.
Additional research is required to determine whether sleep plays a role in cholesterol, triglycerides, and other signs of inflammation.
St-Onge suggests that practitioners ask patients about their sleep and snoring.
“Patients need to be aware that adequate sleep is important, just as being physically active and eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, and fish are important for cardiovascular health. Sleep is another type of ammunition that we can tailor to improve health,” St-Onge explained.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests that nearly 50 to 70 million Americans suffer with a sleep disorder or do not get adequate sleep on a nightly basis. Sleep deprivation can contribute to many health complications, so keeping an eye on your sleep quality and working to improve your sleep can greatly benefit your health.