MAR 14, 2023 9:00 AM PDT

Insomnia Linked to Heart Attack Risk

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A new systematic review and meta-analysis published in Clinical Cardiology has shown that insomnia is linked to a greater risk of having a heart attack.

The meta-analysis included nine studies with over 1,100,000 participants. Participants in the studies were an average of 52 years old, and about 13% had insomnia. Insomnia was identified using either diagnostic codes or the presence of any of three symptoms: difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or waking up early and being unable to return to sleep.

The results of the pooled analysis showed that insomnia was significantly linked to an increased risk of having a heart attack. Patients in the analysis were followed-up with for a mean of nine years, and during that time those with insomnia were 69% more likely to have a heart attack than those who did not have a sleep disorder. People with insomnia who also had another risk factor, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, were even more likely to have a heart attack. People with both insomnia and diabetes were twice as likely to have a heart attack compared to controls. Duration of sleep was also linked to heart attack risk; people getting 5 or less hours of sleep per night were 1.56 times more likely to have a heart attack than those getting 7–8 hours of sleep per night.

One of the study’s authors noted that, while insomnia is common, it is often more of a lifestyle choice than an illness. Many people experience insomnia because they are not prioritizing sleep or practicing good sleep hygiene. Tips for sleeping well include keeping your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet; avoiding electronics close to bedtime; leaving sufficient time to sleep before you need to wake up; and getting the recommended amount of physical activity during the day. If you are practicing good sleep habits and still experiencing insomnia, talk to your doctor.

Sources: Clinical Cardiology, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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