If you’re struggling to fall or stay asleep, you could be putting your heart health at risk.
You might not feel it immediately like you do the sleepiness and grogginess, but a large pool of evidence suggests that poor sleep is linked to heart problems like a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
A recent study has uncovered that people in midlife with a variety of sleep problems may triple their risk of heart disease.
The “sleep problems” are relatively common, too. They include trouble falling asleep, waking up in the wee hours of the morning, or sleeping fewer than six hours per night.
Sufficient sleep is highly important to long-term health.
Several issues can contribute to a sleep shortfall. For some, it could be as simple as not setting aside enough time for sleep. Others may have television, alcohol, or coffee habits that can disrupt sleep. Some even have medical conditions that impair sleep.
Researchers looked at data from more than 7,400 adults (average age was 53) in the Midlife in the United States Study that reported information about sleep habits and heart disease history. Some participants (633) used a device that recorded sleep activity.
To assess sleep issues, researchers looked at:
- Regularity (if they slept longer on work days than non-work days)
- Satisfaction (whether or not they had trouble falling asleep; woke up in the night or early in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep; felt sleep during the day)
- Alertness (how often they napped for more than five minutes)
- Efficiency (how long it took them to fall asleep at bedtime)
- Duration (how many hours they typically slept each night)
They also asked participants about heart-related problems, conditions, diagnosis, etc.
After looking at the data, researchers found that each additional increase in self-reported sleep problems was linked to a 54 percent increased risk of heart disease compared to those with normal sleep patterns.
The increase was much higher among people who both self-reported and wore a device, which is considered to have greater accuracy. Their risk was linked to a 141 percent higher risk.
Finding ways to improve sleep, including better sleep hygiene and treating medical issues that may impair sleep, may help save your heart in the future.