restful sleep

How Restful Sleep is Good for Your Heart

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of adults in the United States don’t get the right amount of restful sleep.

Also, according to the CDC, numerous studies have linked not getting enough restful sleep with an increased risk of heart problems. In fact, not getting enough sound sleep results in problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.

Restful Sleep Duration Study - European Heart Journal

Now, the 2011 European Heart Journal reviewed 15 medical studies involving about 475,000 people.

Short Sleepers

First and foremost, short sleepers are those who sleep less than six hours a night. Above all, short sleepers may be prone to risk factors resulting in either coronary heart disease or stroke. Indeed, 48 percent of short sleepers developed or died from coronary heart disease in a seven to 25-year follow-up period.

Also, 15 percent of short sleepers developed or died from stroke during this same time period.

Long Sleepers

Meanwhile, long sleepers, averaged nine or more hours of sleep a night. Also, long sleepers may be prone to risk factors resulting in either coronary heart disease or stroke. Indeed, 38 percent of long sleepers developed or died from coronary heart disease in a seven to 25-year follow-up period.

Lastly, 65 percent of long sleepers developed or died from stroke during this same time period.

Restful Sleep Study - European Society of Cardiology

Next, a study at the 2018 European Society of Cardiology conference reported best durations for restful sleep. In fact, the most beneficial sleep durations, for a healthy heart, were six to eight hours of sleep a night. Indeed, anything more than eight or less than six hours is detrimental to the health of your heart. Moreover, both short and long sleepers had a greater risk of developing or dying from coronary artery disease or stroke.

Restful Sleep Study - American College of Cardiology

Meanwhile, a Journal of the American College of Cardiology study reported on the benefits of getting adequate restful sleep. Indeed, the study reported that anyone can mitigate risks of heart attack by sleeping between six to nine hours. Moreover, that includes people who have a genetic predisposition to heart disease.

Now, this study looked at people between the ages of 40 to 69 who never had a heart attack. Indeed, the study found those sleeping less than six hours were 20 percent more likely to have a heart attack. While, those sleeping more than nine hours had a 34 percent greater chance of experiencing a heart attack. Incidentally, on average, the further people fell outside the six to nine-hour duration, the greater their risk of heart attack.

In addition, the National Sleep Foundation, reported on the effects of sleep duration on stroke and heart attack. Indeed, adults sleeping less than 6 hours have almost twice the risk as those sleeping 7 to 8 hours.

Effects of Inadequate Restful Sleep on the Heart

Study

Now, new research was conducted, at the National Center for Cardiovascular Research in Madrid, Spain. And, their results were recently reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

In this study, coronary 3D heart ultrasound and cardiac CT scans tracked arteries of 3,974 Spanish adult bank employees. Incidentally, at the start of the study, these adults, of average age 46, did not have heart disease. Also, two-thirds of the adults were men.

Results

Above all, research showed that the odds of accumulating fatty plaque in arteries increased with inadequate amounts of restful sleep. Moreover, fatty plaque increased significantly when lack of restful sleep was chronic. By the way, atherosclerosis is the accumulation of fatty plaque in the arteries. Also, this accumulation of fatty plaque narrows the arteries and makes them stiffer. Regrettably, atherosclerosis increases the odds of getting a heart attack or stroke.

Next, researchers compared adults sleeping less than six hours a night with those sleeping seven to eight hours. And, they found those sleeping less than six hours were 27 percent more likely to have body-wide atherosclerosis. Strangely enough, the study found women sleeping more than eight hours a night also had increased risk of body-wide atherosclerosis.

Furthermore, researchers compared adults who woke up frequently or had difficulty falling asleep with those who slept well. And, they found adults who didn’t sleep well were 34 percent more likely to have body-wide atherosclerosis.

Incidentally, adults who had six hours of good quality sleep fared better because the quality of their sleep was good. By the way, good quality referred to how often a person woke up during the night. Also, good quality considered how frequently a person moved during sleep.

Above all, the study showed the importance of getting seven to eight hours of good sleep for your cardiovascular health. And, the heavy price paid, on their cardiovascular health, by poor quality sleepers or those chronically deprived of restful sleep.

Meanwhile, previous studies reported that lack of sleep increased heart disease risk factors. For example, risk factors such as glucose levels, blood pressure, inflammation, and obesity.

Atherosclerosis

Now, as described above, not getting enough restful sleep increases the odds of accumulating fatty plaque in arteries. By the way, atherosclerosis is the accumulation of plaque in the arteries.

So, to better understand atherosclerosis, the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital studied mice genetically engineered to develop atherosclerosis.

Therefore, half the mice had their sleep cycles repeatedly disrupted. While, the other half slept normally. Meanwhile, after 16 weeks, the sleep-disrupted mice had greater arterial plaques than the mice who slept normally. By the way, the study in Spain also reported more arterial plaque in the sleep deprived.

Furthermore, the sleep-deprived mice had twice the level of certain white blood cells than the non-sleep deprived mice. Also, the sleep-deprived mice had lower amounts of the hormone hypocretin.

Incidentally, the brain regulates sleep and wake states by producing the hormone hypocretin. Meanwhile, experiments showed that hypocretin suppressed production of stem cells that make white blood cells in their bone marrow. Therefore, falling hypocretin levels results in production of more white blood cells.

So, sleep-deficient mice that received hypocretin supplements tended to produce fewer immune or white blood cells. Consequently, they developed smaller artery wall plaques than mice that weren’t given the hypocretin supplementation. Therefore, these results suggest that hypocretin loss during disrupted sleep contributes to inflammation and atherosclerosis.

In summary, the brain of the sleep deprived likely cuts back on the production of their hypocretin hormone. Which, in turn, increases plaque in the arteries that leads to atherosclerosis.

Infrequent Versus Chronic Sleep Problems

In general, according to health experts, short-term sleep issues won’t do much harm. However, chronic, continuous sleep disturbances can lead to serious heart issues and make existing heart problems worse. Incidentally, about six percent of the US population has chronic insomnia. Also, chronic or frequent, sleep disturbances, can lead to serious heart issues or make existing heart problems worse.

In fact, those who struggle with getting restful sleep on a regular basis should speak with a sleep expert. Finally, good sleeping habits also help you avoid other problems associated with sleep deprivation.

Insomnia

Finally, a meta-analysis demonstrated that frequent insomnia was associated with increased risk of future heart attack and stroke. By the way, symptoms of insomnia included difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining restful sleep, and non-restorative sleep.

Now, as many as one in two adults experience short-term insomnia at some point. On the other hand, nearly 1 in 10 may have long-lasting insomnia.

Most of all, insomnia can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. Also, over time, poor sleep can lead to unhealthy habits that can hurt your heart. For example, these bad habits include high stress levels, little motivation to be physically active, or having unhealthy food choices.

About the Author Lisa

Leave a Comment: