According to new research presented at the European Society of Cardiology, 9 out of 10 people aren’t getting good sleep, and their poor sleep is associated with a greater risk of developing stroke and heart disease.
The study included 7,200 participants who filled out a questionnaire at the start of the study and at two follow-up visits to determine whether their sleep habits were healthy. The five factors that were measured regarding sleep health were sleep duration, insomnia, experiences of frequent excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea, and chronotype. Each factor was given either a 1 for “optimal” or a 0 for “non-optimal,” with the optimal values for each factor being sleep duration of 7-8 hours per night, rarely or never experiencing insomnia, never having frequent excessive daytime sleepiness, not having sleep apnea, and having an early chronotype. Overall, patients with a score of 5 were considered to have optimal sleep health and patients with a score of 0 or 1 had poor sleep health.
Only 10% of participants had optimal sleep health at the start of the study, and 8% of participants had poor sleep health. Over the median of eight years of follow-up, over 270 of the participants developed coronary heart disease or stroke. Amazingly, participants with a sleep score of 5 had a 75% lower risk of developing these conditions compared to participants who had a sleep score of 0 or 1. Additionally, each additional point in a person’s sleep score at the start of the study correlated with a 22% decrease in the risk of developing coronary heart disease or stroke.
The AHA recently added sleep health as a key to maintaining and improving heart health, and the results of this study highlight the importance of sleep for cardiovascular health. One of the study’s authors noted that the low number of optimal sleepers was not surprising given our busy lives, but focusing on sleep may be essential for improving and maintaining our health.