Over 50 million Americans reportedly have trouble sleeping. As research is increasingly finding that having a good night’s sleep is linked to maintaining a healthy heart, it may be time to reconsider your sleep schedule, and how to get better quality rest.
A recent study examined the cardiovascular health of almost 5000 women by asking them to report on their sleep quality, the amount of time taken to fall asleep, whether they had insomnia and their dietary habits. In the end, the study found that those who had the worst sleep generally consumed more added sugars than those who slept better. Moreover, women with poorer quality sleep also tended to over-eat and make unhealthy food choices.
As this study was observational, its results may not be conclusive. However, as poor dietary habits tend to increase one’s risk of cardiovascular disease in general, it seems that poor sleep may affect cardiovascular health by affecting diet. The study further implies that the sensation of being full may be affected by sleep deprivation, perhaps in tampering with complex hormonal signaling. Poor diets may also affect our ability to fall and stay asleep.
Another study conducted recently sought to compare sleep regularity with the development of cardiovascular disease among almost 2000 adult men and women without the disease. Over a five-year period, the participants wore wrist trackers to monitor their daily activities and sleep cycles. Participants also completed a comprehensive sleep study and provided dietary information.
In the end, the researchers found that irregular sleep patterns increased the participants' risk for heart disease. In fact, those with the most irregular sleep cycles were more than twice as likely to develop heart disease than those with more regular sleep. From the study, the researchers concluded that multiple factors may link sleep patterns with metabolic changes known to increase one’s risk of cardiovascular disease including obesity, diabetes and higher cholesterol.
Given the findings from these two studies, better regulated sleep may be a good precaution to safeguard heart health. Although of course not conclusive as they do not necessarily prove a direct link, these studies nevertheless correlate poor sleep with known risk factors.