According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are over 80 different types of sleep disorders. More than 50 million people in the United States have a sleep disorder, and more than 100 million Americans of all ages report that they get insufficient sleep. Sleep is an essential part of what makes the body function, and the amount of sleep you need could be more or less than what others need. That said, experts recommended adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Until this new study, previous studies typically used single sleep measures. That means that they focused on sleep duration, quality, or insomnia. A composite of multidimensional sleep health may better indicate whether or not a person has a higher risk of heart disease. Study others examined the degree of multidimensional sleep health and its association with the risk of heart disease. This is especially important because lack of sleep may reduce productivity, impair immune function, and increase the risk of heart disease, or other illnesses, later on in life.
Study: Link Between Sleep And Heart Disease
In order to determine the effects of how sleep affects potential heart issues, study authors took a look at self-reported sleep characteristics and heart disease history for 6,820 adults with a median age of 53.4 years old. In order to do that, study authors tested two sleep health composites based on self-report only, and both self-report and actigraphy. This took place across multiple sleep dimensions, using a weighted sum approach, so higher scores mean more sleep problems.
The study authors found that the risk of heart disease could increase by as much as 141% when coupled with poor sleep. Additionally, researchers also found the following:
- Each additional sleep problem increased the risk of heart disease by 54%
- Sleep regularity, satisfaction, timing of sleep, sleep efficiency, alertness during waking hours, and sleep duration all influenced the risk of heart disease.
Study authors noted that those findings indicate the importance of assessing sleep problems within an individual to determine the risk of heart disease. This is one of the first studies to show those findings! In well-functioning adults during midlife, having more sleep problems may increase the risk of heart disease. Another point from the study to note is that measuring sleep health accurately and comprehensively is important to predict heart disease risk.
Tips For Better Sleep
Although sleep troubles may increase the risk of heart disease, you don’t have to accept that as your fate. There are ways to promote better sleep, which will only enhance heart health. Below, we highlight a few ways to help improve your sleep quality.
Block Out Light
A lot of people are very sensitive to light at night, but it is very common for people to have lights on at all times. Screens and artificial lighting, especially inches from your face before bed, do not aid your sleep efforts. Excess light can affect your circadian rhythm, so avoiding bright light can help you transition to bedtime and aid the body’s production of melatonin. If light penetrates your room, consider investing in blackout curtains or wearing a sleep mask.
Relax For 30 Minutes Before Bed
If you are in a relaxed state, it is much easier to fall asleep. Low-impact stretching, breathing exercises, soothing music, and quiet reading are all examples of how to get in the right headspace before bed. Focus on trying to relax instead without aiming to fall asleep. Follow your breath with controlled breathing or guided meditation. Use these tools, which are readily available, to help ease you into better, sounder sleep.
Limit Daytime Naps
A lot of people love a good nap, but napping for too long or too frequently during the day may ruin your sleep at night. Limit your naps to no more than 30-40 minutes during mid-morning or early afternoon. Don’t nap for over an hour and avoid evening or late night napping. If you work nights, though, you may need to take a nap late in the day to help make up your sleep debt.
Stick To A Sleep Schedule
As noted earlier, sleep experts recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night for adults. Most people can function optimally with seven hours of sleep, while others need more. Ideally, go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, including weekends. Being consistent reinforces the body’s sleep/wake cycle. If you lay in bed and are still awake within 20 minutes, leave the bedroom to engage in a relaxing practice. Go back to bed when you feel tired and repeat as needed.