Good sleep is a reward unto itself but it may offer other unseen health benefits when it comes to your heart. That’s because new research from the University of South Florida shows poor sleep is associated with a threefold increase in the risk of heart disease.
Scientists at USF were interested in multiple aspects of sleep health and its role in heart health and published their findings in a recent edition of the journal Scientific Reports.
Researchers reviewed data from nearly 7,000 adults with an average age of 53 and found the heart disease risk in poor sleepers is elevated as much as 141 percent. Most of the study participants self-reported their sleep characteristics but nearly 10 percent has wrist-worn devices to measure sleep activity.
The study participants were gauged for sleep regularity, satisfaction, alertness during waking hours, timing of sleep, sleep efficiency and sleep duration. Those findings were linked to physician-diagnosed incidences of heart disease. Researchers found that each additional increase in self-reported sleep health problems was associated with a 54 percent increase in the risk of heart disease.
However, the estimated risk of heart disease was much greater in those who self-reported and also had their sleep measured electronically. An increase in sleep health problems was linked to a 141 percent increase in heart disease. That number was perceived to be more accurate because of the multiple recording instruments.
"These findings show the importance of assessing 'co-existing sleep health problems' within an individual to capture the risk of heart disease," said lead author Soomi Lee, assistant professor of aging studies and director of the STEALTH lab at USF. "This is one of the first studies showing that among well-functioning adults in midlife, having more sleep health problems may increase the risk of heart disease. The higher estimated risk in those who provided both self-report and actigraphy sleep data suggests that measuring sleep health accurately and comprehensively is important to increase the prediction of heart disease."
Scientists asked the participants about any physician-diagnosed heart conditions like arrythimia, heart murmur or enlarged heart. They controlled for family history of heart disease and socioeconomic factors like race, sex, smoking, depression and physical activity.
Women reported having more sleep health problems but research showed men were more likely to suffer from heart disease.