Most people understand the importance of getting a good night’s sleep to feel refreshed and alert the next morning. But it may come as a surprise to some that either too much or too little sleep can contribute significantly to things like atrial fibrillaton, the development of cardiovascular disease and even death from a heart attack.
A recent review conducted by researchers at the University of California found that poor sleep may have undeniable ties to atrial fibrillation, also known as “a-fib,” a condition characterized by rapid heart rate that causes poor blood flow. According to research presented at the American Heart Associations 2016 Scientific Sessions, the researchers found that:
- disrupted sleep, including insomnia, may be independently associated with atrial fibrillation;
- people who reported frequent night-time awakening had about a 26 percent higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation compared to those who didn’t wake up a lot; and
- people diagnosed with insomnia had a 29 percent higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation compared to those without insomnia.
Previous research has coorborated these findings, as well, linking poor sleep to other types of cardio complications.
Proper Sleep Drastically Lowers Risk of a Fatal Cardiac Event
Researchers from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, publishing the result of a study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology have found that a good night’s sleep can increase the health benefits of exercise, proper diet, moderate alcohol consumption and not smoking. Scientists determined that these lifestyle habits synergistically help to protect against cardiovascular disease (CVD).
In an amazing finding, the study team found that the effect of sufficient sleep on heart-related deaths could be as strong as not smoking. Lead study author, Dr. Monique Verschuren noted, “It is always important to confirm results… but the evidence is certainly growing that sleep should be added to our list of CVD risk factors.” Lack of quality sleep has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure and other factors directly associated with cardiovascular risk.
In a large study consisting of 6,672 men and 7,967 women, aged from 20 to 65 years who were free of CVD, the team found that the combination of the four traditional lifestyle factors was linked to a 57 percent lower risk of both fatal and non-fatal CVD, and a 67 percent lower risk of fatal events. When the researchers added sufficient sleep (defined as seven continuous hours, but less than nine hours each night) as a factor, the heart benefit increased further: the risk of composite CVD was 65 percent lower and the risk of fatal events was 83 percent lower.
Sleep 7+ Hours Each Night to Slash Heart Attack Risk
In an effort to explain the results, the scientists point to prior studies showing that short sleep duration is associated with a higher incidence of overweight, obesity and hypertension leading to higher levels of blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglycerides, consistent with increased cardiovascular disease risk. Combining a quality night’s sleep of more than seven hours with the other identified lifestyle factors (diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption) is a recipe for lowering the risk of death from a heart attack by more than eighty percent, clearly worth the small amount of extra effort.
Experts repeatedly recommend sleeping seven to nine hours each night in a quiet, totally dark environment to stimulate the production of melatonin to enhance the quality of sleep and allow the body to perform routine metabolic repair functions necessary to help prevent disease and promote vibrant health.
John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and diet, health and nutrition researcher and author with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives. Discover the latest alternative health news concerning diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and weight loss at My Optimal Health Resource