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How Getting Enough Sleep Lowers The Risk Of Stroke And Heart Disease



Healthy sleep habits are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in midlife and older persons, according to a study Trusted Source that was published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Researchers made advantage of information gathered from 2008 to 2018 from the Dongfeng-Tongji cohortTrusted Source, a prospective study that is still in progress in Shiyan, China.

The study group examined 15,306 people, 42% of whom were men and 58% of whom were women, with an average age of 66. 3,946 (26%) participants had consistently positive sleep patterns, while 5,474 (36%) had consistently negative sleep patterns, according to the study’s findings.

Researchers found that after a mean follow-up period of nearly five years, 3,669 study group participants had recorded cases of cardiovascular illness during that time, including 2,986 cases of coronary heart disease and 683 occurrences of stroke.

Those who had consistent good sleep patterns had a far lower risk of new onset cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke during the follow-up period than those who had persistently poor sleep patterns.

According to researchers, these correlations were not affected by the hereditary risk for cardiovascular disease.

“However, in a dose-dependent manner, sleep pattern changes and genetic risk were jointly associated with the risk of [coronary heart disease] and stroke.”

Heart Disease Risk And Sound Sleep Habits

The study’s five-year patterns were based on polygenic risk scores for coronary heart disease and stroke as well as bedtime, sleep length, quality, and midday naps.

Those with complete sleep data from the 2008–2010 baseline survey and the 2013 first follow-up survey were among the participants. From 2013 to 2018, subjects without a history of cancer or cardiovascular disease were prospectively evaluated. In November 2023, scientists completed their statistical analysis.

Cardiovascular disease, according to the authors, “is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.” About one-third of all deaths worldwide in 2019 were cardiovascular-related, with over 40% of deaths occurring in China.

The researchers added that there is an urgent need to uncover modifiable risk factors for the prevention of major heart disease because the burden of cardiovascular disease is steadily increasing in almost every nation.

The group agreed that earlier research had linked cardiovascular health to sleep.

The majority of those studies, according to the researchers, only utilized one measurement, which may not accurately reflect the relationship between overall sleep and cardiovascular disease because sleep patterns might vary over time.

Researchers referenced a study (Trusted Source) with 9,309 European participants that showed sustaining healthy sleep habits over a period of two to five years was linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease, but not stroke.

They did point out that the research focused on middle-aged individuals who usually modified their sleep habits to accommodate their job schedules.

Genes and Lifestyle Are Other Factors That Affect Heart Health

The authors of the study pointed out the need for additional research on retired, older individuals with more innate sleep patterns.

The researchers also noted that genetic and lifestyle factors are linked to cardiovascular illness. They cited earlier studies that demonstrated good lifestyles were related with a lower risk of stroke and coronary heart disease, even in individuals with high hereditary risk.

“To fill the evidence gap, we collected sleep information at two time points approximately five years apart and prospectively explored the long-term outcomes of changes in sleep patterns on the subsequent incidence of [cardiovascular disease] outcomes among middle-aged and older Chinese retirees,” the study authors wrote. “We further investigated how the five-year changes in sleep patterns interact and combine with [cardiovascular disease]-related genetic variants for the risk of [cardiovascular disease] outcome.”

Not engaged in the study, sleep specialist and creator of Luna Leaps, Chelsey Borson, told Medical News Today that sleep has a significant impact on heart health as well as general wellness.

“The link between adequate sleep and heart health is increasingly recognized as vital. Sleep serves as a period of recovery and repair for the heart, reducing stress and inflammation, major risk factors for heart disease,” Borson explained. “It’s not an entirely new idea, but the depth of understanding has deepened significantly in recent years as research has advanced.”

According to research, people who get less than seven hours of sleep each night are more likely to experience cardiovascular problems like myocardial infarction, hypertension, and coronary artery disease. This, according to Borson, “underscores sleep’s role in regulating blood pressure, heart rate, and cardiovascular stability.”

Good Sleeping Practices Are Essential

“It is crucial to go to bed and wake up simultaneously every day to synchronize your body’s internal clock. Creating a bedtime routine that includes winding down activities, like reading or meditation, can also promote better sleep,” Borson said.

“Limiting exposure to screens and bright lights in the evening is another effective strategy, as it helps maintain the natural production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep,” she added.

A consultant cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in California, Dr. Rigved Tadwalkar, who was not involved in the study, told Medical News Today that getting enough sleep is essential for the body to repair itself and rest. It also helps regulate hormones that affect blood pressure, inflammation, and blood sugar levels—all of which are vital for heart health.

“You can improve sleep by maintaining a consistent sleep schedule,” Tadwalkar said. “Consistency is key. Going to bed and waking up at the same times daily, including on the weekends, contributes to regulating your internal clock, resulting in enhanced sleep quality. If necessary, resist the temptation to oversleep by more than an hour beyond your regular waking time, as this practice supports the stability of your sleep patterns.”

According to Tadwalkar, those who struggle to fall asleep should reconsider their pre-bedtime routines and refrain from stimulating activities like using screens just before bed.

“Instead, embrace calming rituals such as reading a book, or practicing relaxation techniques to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down,” he said. “Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet to enhance the sleep environment. Get rid of noise and light sources to the greatest extent possible and tweak the temperature to create an ideal setting for a peaceful night’s sleep.”

According to Tadwalkar, seeking tailored guidance and additional assessment from a healthcare professional is crucial if sleep problems are not resolved.

“They can assist in identifying any underlying causes of sleep problems and recommend the most appropriate treatment options,” he said. “Particularly, consider seeking help from a sleep medicine doctor, who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. Sleep medicine doctors have the expertise to conduct specialized tests, develop tailored treatment plans, and provide guidance for long-term sleep health.”


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