APR 01, 2017 2:43 PM PDT

What Is Insomnia Doing to Your Heart?

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Tossing and turning at night instead of getting some much-needed, un-interrupted sleep can cause more than just a bad case of bedhead and a grumpy disposition the following morning. Recent studies link insomnia to an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke.

Source: EmpowHER

An estimated 10 percent of Americans are living with chronic insomnia disorder, where people report being unable to sleep at least three nights per week for at least three months. Past studies attempting to link insomnia and cardiovascular problems have put forth inconsistent results, but a new study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology outlines some definitive findings.

A team of researchers conducted a meta-analysis, including 15 total studies and over 160,000 participants. Scientists conducting the study looked for evidence of an association between insomnia symptoms (difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, early-morning awakening, non-restorative sleep) and incidence of or death from cardiovascular disease (acute myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, or a combination of any of these).

Study researchers followed up with their participants after an average of about thirty years, and more than eleven thousand adverse health events had occurred in the study participants during this time.

"Sleep is important for biological recovery and takes around a third of our lifetime, but in modern society more and more people complain of insomnia," said first author of the study, Qiao He, a Master's degree student at China Medical University, Shenyang, China.  "We found that difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, or non-restorative sleep were associated with 27%, 11%, and 18% higher risks of cardiovascular and stroke events, respectively.”

The specific path connecting insomnia symptoms and adverse health events is still blurry, but researchers involved in the meta-analysis believe that metabolism changes, endocrine dysfunction, increased blood pressure, and elevated levels of proinflammatory cytokines are all involved. More studies will have to be completed in order to understand the complete relationship between insomnia and cardiovascular disease, but a link is definitely there.

Sources: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, European Heart Association

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
OCT 13, 2021
Cardiology
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Stroke: Far More Than Meets the Eye
OCT 13, 2021
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Stroke: Far More Than Meets the Eye
There are few acute medical conditions more devastating than a stroke. Contrary to popular belief, not all stroke victim ...
NOV 10, 2021
Cardiology
Can Low Blood Sugar in Older Patients Lead to Serious Vascular Complications?
NOV 10, 2021
Can Low Blood Sugar in Older Patients Lead to Serious Vascular Complications?
Low blood sugar, otherwise called ‘hypoglycemia,’ is common among patients that have diabetes. This is espec ...
NOV 17, 2021
Neuroscience
Drinking Tea and Coffee Linked to Reduced Dementia and Stroke Risk
NOV 17, 2021
Drinking Tea and Coffee Linked to Reduced Dementia and Stroke Risk
Drinking 4-6 cups of coffee or tea is linked to a lower risk of stroke and dementia. The corresponding study was publish ...
NOV 19, 2021
Neuroscience
Could Your Heart Rate Indicate the Health of Your Relationship?
NOV 19, 2021
Could Your Heart Rate Indicate the Health of Your Relationship?
When old couples are close to each other, their heart rates synchronize in complex patterns of interaction. The correspo ...
NOV 24, 2021
Cardiology
Stressed Mitochondria From Fat Cells Are a Warning to the Heart
NOV 24, 2021
Stressed Mitochondria From Fat Cells Are a Warning to the Heart
While obesity is closely linked to cardiovascular disease, that connection is murky. Some people who are considered obes ...
NOV 28, 2021
Cardiology
Another Study Links Aspirin Use to Poor Heart Health
NOV 28, 2021
Another Study Links Aspirin Use to Poor Heart Health
At one time, low doses of aspirin were recommended to some people to ward off heart attacks, and they still may be for s ...
Loading Comments...