MAR 21, 2023 9:00 AM PDT

Poor Sleep Is Linked to Heart Disease

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

New research published in BMC Medicine has shown that poor sleep heightens the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death.

The study used data from over 300,000 middle-aged individuals in the UK Biobank. An established composite sleep score was used to categorize participants as poor, intermediate, or healthy sleepers based on their self-reported chronotype, sleep duration, insomnia complaints, snoring, and daytime sleepiness. Additionally, almost half of the participants (about 140,000) had primary care data available; the researchers used this data to identify participants with clinically diagnosed insomnia, sleep-related breathing disorders, and other sleep disorders. They then estimated each participant’s cardiovascular disease-free (CVD-free) life expectancy (or length of time each would live without experiencing cardiovascular disease) based on models.

The study’s authors found that different sleep disturbances were associated with different durations of living with cardiovascular disease. Women who were classified as poor sleepers lost 1.8 years of CVD-free life compared to women who were healthy sleepers, and men who were poor sleepers lost 2.3 years compared to their healthy-sleeping counterparts. Sleep-related breathing disorders had a particularly large impact on CVD-free life in both men and women, with men losing 6.7 years of CVD-free life and women losing 7.3 years.

One of the study’s authors noted that this research points to the significant cardiovascular effects of chronic poor sleep. Sleep apnea is known to increase the risk of heart disease, and this research points to the broader idea that poor sleep in general can increase the risk of heart issues. This study adds to the mounting evidence relating sleep to cardiovascular health, including the American Heart Association’s recent addition of healthy sleep to its list of key factors in maintaining and improving heart health.

Sources: BMC Medicine, Science Daily, AHA

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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