Unhealthy sleep duration linked to poor heart health
Adults who slept less than 6 hours or 9 or more hours daily had lower odds for “ideal cardiovascular health,” according to a cross-sectional evaluation of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data.
Previous research has shown that people who do not sleep the recommended 7 to 9 hours per night are at risk for cardiovascular disease, but less is known about the impact of sleep duration on cardiovascular health, according to researchers. The American Heart Association describes a person’s cardiovascular health as ideal, intermediate or poor based on a combination of their BMI, BP, diet, fasting blood glucose, physical activity, smoking and total cholesterol.
“We wanted to understand if there was an association between sleep duration and ideal cardiovascular health in that framework to provide further evidence of the importance of healthy sleep habits for good health,” Rebecca E. Cash, PhD, MPH, epidemiologist and biostatistician in the department of emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, told Healio Primary Care.
Cash and colleagues evaluated data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2013 to 2016 from 7,784 CVD-free adults (weighted mean age, 44.5 years; 51.5% women; 65.5% non-Hispanic white). According to the researchers, 64% of the cohort earned monthly family incomes greater than 185% of the federal poverty guidelines, 17.8% engaged in binge drinking at least monthly, 4.3% used prescription sleep aids; and 2.6% were moderately or severely depressed. Also, 9% of the cohort slept 6 or fewer hours daily and 13.5% slept 9 or more hours daily.
Cash and colleagues wrote that 21.3% of the cohort had ideal cardiovascular health. Compared with those who slept 7 to less than 8 hours daily, those who slept less than 6 hours — which the researchers considered a “very short” duration (OR = 0.65; 95% CI, 0.47–0.9) — as well as those who slept more than 9 hours — considered a “very long” duration (OR = 0.72; 95% CI, 0.55–0.94) — were more likely to have lower odds of ideal cardiovascular health. The researchers stated that linear regression models confirmed the findings.
“There is substantial evidence beyond this work of the importance of healthy sleep habits.” Cash said. “However, we should always be cautious about changing clinical practice in response to a single study. Regardless, promotion of healthy sleep habits should be encouraged.”
She cautioned primary care physicians against using the findings to ascertain a universally acceptable amount of sleep for all adults.
“There is no one-size-fits-all number for sleep duration, and sleep needs may vary person to person,” Cash said, adding that “guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society provide a starting place with age-specific recommendations.”
Editor’s Note: On Aug. 3, we corrected the lede of this article to clarify that the researchers reported less than ideal cardiovascular health in those adults who slept less than 6 hours or 9 or more hours daily. The Editors regret this error.