Self-reported sleep and heart disease data were collected from 6,820 adults in the U.S., and about 10% of the sample (663 people) also wore a device (an actimetry sensor) to objectively measure sleep patterns. Multiple dimensions of sleep health were measured, including regularity, satisfaction, alertness, timing, efficiency, and duration of sleep. To measure the frequency of heart disease, the researchers asked the study participants whether they had been diagnosed with a variety of heart conditions, such as a heart attack, coronary heart disease, arrhythmia, heart failure, and more.
Increased self-reported sleep problems were associated with a 54% higher risk of being diagnosed with heart disease. When self-reported sleep data were combined with actigraphy data, poor sleep was associated with a striking 141% greater risk of heart disease diagnosis. This higher level of risk (compared to the self-reported group) was likely because the device-measured sleep data were more accurate, hinting that accurate and objective measures of sleep are important in assessments of risk.
Previous studies have linked poor sleep and insomnia to heart disease. Additionally, poor sleep and sleep loss are associated with lower cognitive function, worse moods, lower quality of life, decreased immune system function, impaired memory, and more. Doctors generally recommend that adults get 7–9 hours of sleep per night, but about one out of three American adults don’t reach that amount. Sleep habits like waking up and going to bed at consistent times, keeping your bedroom cool and dark, and avoiding screens at night can help improve sleep quality and quantity. Most importantly, prioritizing sleep in your life can have major positive impacts on your health and wellbeing.