Getting to the 'heart' of sleep

February 5, 2016 by From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network
Credit: Vera Kratochvil/public domain

Sleep is essential for a healthy heart. People who don't sleep enough are at higher risk for heart disease. One study that examined data from 3,000 adults over age 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night. Sleep deprivation is a growing problem, with 28 percent of adults now reporting that they get six or fewer hours of sleep per night.

It's not clear why less is detrimental to , but researchers understand that sleeping too little causes disruptions in many normal functions of the body, including and blood pressure.

"Lack of sleep also is a 'weighty' issue. In a 2012 study I conducted, 17 people ages 18 to 40 spent 15 days in our research lab and were allowed to eat as much as they wanted. Half the group was only allowed to sleep two-thirds of their normal sleep time; the other half served as controls and were allowed the full amount," says Mayo Clinic Health System cardiologist Andrew Calvin. "We found that the test group ate an average of 559 additional calories each day. More importantly, it didn't seem that the people who were awake longer burned more calories from additional activities. Our study concluded that if that rate of consumption kept going, the people who slept less could gain up to one pound a week."

"Furthermore, those in the study who slept less had signs that their blood vessels didn't work as well, something called . Endothelial dysfunction is found in people at risk for attacks, so this is a worrisome finding that should be explored further," adds Dr. Calvin.

Another condition that can affect heart health is sleep apnea, a condition that causes people to wake frequently throughout the night. This disrupted sleep can lead to higher at night and during the day, and may increase the risk for heart attacks and stroke. One study found that over an eight-year period, men with severe sleep apnea were 58 percent more likely to develop than men without the nighttime breathing disorder. But it doesn't take a severe underlying sleep disorder to see effects on the heart. Poor sleeping, as a result of changing work schedules or poor sleep habits, for example, can put you at risk as well.

"Don't compromise your heart health," says Dr. Calvin. "Do your best to make quality sleep a priority in your life. This isn't being lazy; it's good wisdom. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a ."

February is Heart Awareness Month.

Explore further: Snooze your way to better health

236 shares

Related Stories

Snooze your way to better health

January 29, 2016
Sleeping in on weekends need not be a guilty pleasure.

Statins may lower risk of heart disease in people with sleep apnea

January 6, 2016
A new study conducted at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has revealed some of the underlying mechanisms that may increase the risk of heart disease in people with sleep apnea. The study also found that statins—the ...

Poor sleep in seniors linked to hardened brain arteries

January 14, 2016
Poor sleep quality in elderly persons is associated with more severe arteriosclerosis in the brain as well as a greater burden of oxygen-starved tissue (infarcts) in the brain - both of which can contribute to the risk of ...

Prolonged shortened sleep increases blood pressure at night

March 13, 2015
People exposed to prolonged periods of shortened sleep have significant increases in blood pressure during nighttime hours, Mayo Clinic researchers report in a small study of eight participants.

Public sector workers sleep-deprived, says study

January 4, 2016
Research led by the University of Leeds has found those working gruelling hours across the public sector are being left sleep deprived – with many only managing six hours sleep per night.

Dreaming of a good night's sleep

October 22, 2015
New research from the University of Leeds has revealed that some people are losing more than 15 day's worth of sleep a year.

Recommended for you

Air pollution may shorten telomeres in newborns

January 24, 2018
A study conducted before and after the 2004 closure of a coal-burning power plant in Tongliang, China, found children born before the closure had shorter telomeres than those conceived and born after the plant stopped polluting ...

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

January 23, 2018
A study published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third ...

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.