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What You Can Learn From The Latest Sleep & Heart Health Study

September 10, 2020

A recent sleep and heart health study from the University of California, Berkeley, finds a link between a lack of sleep and heart disease. Researchers say you’re at risk if you experience fragmented sleep on a regular basis. Your bad sleep may be contributing to plaque building up in your arteries.

The findings were published in the journal PLOS Biology. Researchers say poor sleep as a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Heart disease remains the No. 1 killer among both men and women in the United States. On average, someone dies of CVD every 37 seconds in the U.S.

Now researchers will turn their attention to trying to find what it is that’s brokering the bad deal between fragmented sleep and the hardening of blood vessels.

Other Sleep/Heart Health Study Findings

Here’s some additional heart-related information from the Top 10 Health Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep from Mark Stibich, Ph.D.:

Sleep Keeps Your Heart Healthy

Heart attacks and strokes are more common during the early morning hours. Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Your heart will be healthier if you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

Sleep May Prevent Cancer

People who are exposed to light at night have a reduced level of melatonin. Since melatonin appears to suppress the growth of tumors, these people have a higher risk for breast and colon cancer.

Sleep Reduces Stress

Sleep deprivation puts your body into a state of stress, functions on high alert, and increasing blood pressure and production of stress hormones. Higher blood pressure increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Sleep Reduces Inflammation

The increase in stress hormones raises the level of inflammation in your body, creating more risk for heart-related conditions, cancer, and diabetes and aging.

Sleep May Help You Lose Weight

It is thought that the lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite. The hormones ghrelin and leptin, important for the regulation of appetite, have been found to be disrupted by lack of sleep.

Naps Make You Smarter

A study of 24,000 Greek adults showed that people who napped several times a week had a lower risk of dying from heart disease, lower levels of stress and improved memory, cognitive function, and mood.

Sleep May Reduce Your Risk for Depression

Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin — a deficiency makes you more likely to suffer from depression.  

Sleep Helps the Body Make Repairs

Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposures.

Sleep is one of the most important things to keep your body functioning and is essential for a healthy heart, along with diet and exercise. People who don't sleep enough are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease—regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits. Getting enough good quality sleep is important if you want to lower your risk of these conditions.

Another way to ensure your heart is as healthy as it can be is by getting it checked regularly. There are several non-invasive tests your doctor can perform that will tell you a lot about your heart. Our guide “Cardiology Tests That Are Helping Hearts Stay Healthy” will explain. Inside you’ll find tests you can have done right away that can even tell you your risk for heart attack within the next 10 years.

How to tell if you'll have a heart attack