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The link between duration of sleep and heart health

A recent study has found the link between duration of sleep and heart health. It states that the right amount of sleep can lower the risk of heart diseases. While too little or too much sleep can lead to a heart attack. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology has published the results of this study.

The right amount of sleep can offset the odds of heart attack

In this research, the team has noticed how the number of sleeping hours can affect heart health. It has found that 6 – 9 hours of sleep every night can offset the risk of a heart attack. And even, the people with high genetic risk for heart attack have a similar effect.

This gives a strong proof of the relationship between duration of sleep and heart health. For this study, the research team has included the data of about a half-million people. It has analyzed the sleep habits (self-reported), medical records, and genetic info of these participants. And followed them for nearly 7 years.

The members included had an age between 40 – 69 and with no history of a heart attack. The team found that people who have slept for less than 6 hours per night were 20% more vulnerable to heart disease than those sleeping for 6 – 9 hours. While the risk increased up to 34% in people who slept for more than 9 hours.

Previous studies have also stated a link between sleep and heart health.  But as these studies were purely observational, it was difficult to decide whether poor sleep has led to heart issues or vice versa. Also, many other factors can affect the results, making it even more difficult to reveal cause and effect.

Related: Alzheimer’s Disease Linked to Irregular Sleeping Patterns

Risk reduction in people genetically predisposed to heart diseases

In this study, the research team has noted 30 other factors. And found that sleep duration can independently influence the risk of a heart attack. The more the people move away from 6 to 9-hour range, greater the risk.

Such as, people who slept for 5 hours a night had a 52% increase in the odds of heart attack than those who slept for 7 to 8 hours. Similarly, the risk doubled in people who were sleeping for 10 hours.

Later, the team looked only at the data of people with genetic risk of heart disease. And found that a 6 to 9-hour sleep in such people has led to an 18% reduction in the odds of a heart attack. Using Mendelian randomization, the team analyzed the genetic profiles of the participants.

And assessed whether the people genetically predisposed to short sleep have a greater chance of heart attacks. Twenty-seven genetic variants were found related to short sleep. The results suggested that genetically influenced short sleep duration was one of the risk factors for heart attack.

It has shown a more casual relationship between duration of sleep and heart health. This study hasn’t examined the mechanism by which sleep can influence heart health. But a few previous studies have given some explanations.

Too little sleep can affect the lining of arteries, the development of inflammatory cells, and also lead to poor and ill-timed eating. That can influence weight and hence heart health.

While sleeping too much sleep can enhance inflammation in the body that can lead to CVD. This study has given hope to people with an inherited risk of a heart attack. And states that just like a healthy diet and physical activity, sleep can also reduce the risk of heart disease.

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