Six to Eight Hours Sleep Best for Heart Health
A study has found that having either more or less than six to eight hours sleep a night could increase the risk of heart disease or stoke.
Between six and eight hours was found to be the optimum amount of sleep.
Relationship between sleep and heart disease
In findings presented the European Society of Cardiology Congress, researchers looked at the relationship between amount of sleep and heart disease.
They combined and analysed the results of previous studies on this topic, and included studies of more than one million adults over the last five years.
Long and short sleepers
Two groups – one of people who got less than six hours sleep a night, and one of people who got more than eight hours sleep a night – were compared with a reference group: those who got between six and eight hours sleep a night.
The research found that both the short and long sleepers had a greater risk of developing or dying from heart disease or stroke within the next nine years.
Compared with those who got between six and eight hours sleep a night, those who slept for less than six hours had an 11% greater risk of heart disease or stoke; and those who slept for more than eight hours a night had a 33% greater risk.
It is thought that the reasons behind the results are because sleep has an impact on biological processes such as blood pressure and metabolism, which have an effect on the heart.
The results are backed up by another study presented at the Congress, which found that middle-aged men who sleep for five or less hours a night have twice the risk of developing a major heart problem than men who sleep for seven to eight hours a night.
Getting into a sleep habit
Study author Dr Epameinondas Fountas, said: “Our findings suggest that too much or too little sleep may be bad for the heart.
“Having the odd short night or lie-in is unlikely to be detrimental to health, but evidence is accumulating that prolonged nightly sleep deprivation or excessive sleeping should be avoided.”
The authors advise getting into the habit of getting six to eight hours sleep a night, for example by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed, eating healthily, and getting regular exercise.
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