'Optimal' sleep linked with 74% lower cardiovascular risk
According to the American Sleep Association, 50–70 million adults in the United States have a sleep disorder. Of these, 25 million have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is when the muscle in the back of the throat relaxes too much to allow regular breathing.
Studies showTrusted Source that OSA is linked to multiple cardiovascular conditions. Research also indicates that healthy sleep patterns reduce cardiovascular risk, even among those with high genetic risk. Most studies examining the link between sleep quality and cardiovascular risk have focused on one dimension of sleep: sleep duration or sleep apnea. The combined effect of multiple sleep dimensions on cardiovascular health thus remains understudied. Recently, researchers from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris, France investigated the joint effect of multiple sleep habits on the incidence of cardiovascular conditions. They found that an overall healthier sleep score was linked to a lower cardiovascular and stroke risk. They presented their findings at this year’s European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress.
The better the sleep, the lower the cardiovascular risk
For the study, the researchers analyzed data collected between 2008 and 2011 from 7,203 men and women aged between 50 and 75 years. All were free from cardiovascular conditions at the beginning of the study.
Each participant underwent a physical examination and various biological tests. They also provided lifestyle information and their medical history. The researchers assessed the participants’ sleep habits via questionnaire, looking at:
- sleep duration
- early-waking chronotype — known as being a “morning person”
- sleep apnea
- subjective daytime sleepiness.
Each dimension was assigned a score of 1 or 0. Criteria for scoring a 1 or “healthy” score included:
- early chronotype
- sleep duration of 7-8 hours per day
- no or rare insomnia
- no sleep apnea
- no frequent daytime sleepiness.
Overall sleep scores among the participants thus ranged from 0 to 5. Among the participants, 6.9% had a sleep score of 0 or 1, and 10.4% had an optimal sleep score of 5.
After a median follow-up of 8 years, the researchers noted that participants with a score of 5 — optimal sleep — had a 74% lower risk for cardiovascular conditions than those with the poorest quality sleep.
They added that each one-point increment in healthy sleep score corresponded with a 22% reduction in cardiovascular risk.
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