Did you know sleeping is great? Apparently, getting a full eight hours every night can make you look fabulous and solve all your problems. Okay, it’s not actually that simple, but it’s a nice thought, right?
Sleep is indeed a critical factor in maintaining your health, both in the short and the long runs. Many studies show abnormal sleeping habits significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. How do you go about determining what “normal” or “good” sleep habits are, though?
Not everyone has the same sleep cycle. A person’s genetics and daily routine give everyone a somewhat unique sleep requirement. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night in general, and the bulk of the population fits in that time slot. Several studies suggest that those who do not get enough sleep have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, while others also suggest too much sleep can do the same.
In a new study out of the University of Tokyo, a team of scientists sought to nail down a way of determining sleep quality. Many studies that examine sleep patterns and the health risks associated with them use time as the metric. This method assumes that everyone needs the same amount of sleep, which just isn’t true. This study examined data from almost 2 million individuals in Japan and attempted to use self-reported “restfulness” as a metric for sleep quality. They would then use this metric to look at the relationship between cardiovascular disease risk and sleep quality.
Examining the data, the team saw that those experiencing restful sleep were older and didn’t smoke. Obesity correlated with poor sleep, with the cardiovascular risk being higher in the group who claimed not to have a restful sleep. Younger age also trended with a stronger correlation between poor sleep and cardiovascular disease.
This study used the self-reported metric of “restfulness” to determine the correlation between cardiovascular disease risk and sleep quality. Several studies report conflicting findings on sleep and health risk, but they use metrics like time that do not account for everyone’s unique sleep patterns. Using restfulness, the team hopes to remove this bias and improve our understanding of how sleep affects our cardiovascular health.
The study concludes, “this comprehensive analysis of a nationwide epidemiological database suggested that good restfulness from sleep was associated with a lower subsequent incidence of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, stroke, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation among the general population without prior history of relevant CVD.”