A new study conducted by researchers from the University of South Florida explored the heart health risks associated with poor sleep. According to their findings, having poor sleep habits can have serious implications for long-term heart health, increasing the risk of heart disease by three times.
“These findings show the importance of assessing ‘co-existing sleep health problems’ within an individual to capture the risk of heart disease,” said researcher Soomi Lee. “This is one of the first studies showing that, among well-functioning adults in midlife, having more sleep health problems may increase the risk of heart disease.”
The link between sleep health and heart health
For the study, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 7,000 adults around the age of 53 who reported on their typical sleeping habits and their heart health. They answered questions about how alert they felt while awake, how long they typically slept, their satisfaction with their sleep, what their sleep schedule looked like, and the regularity of their sleep patterns. Additionally, over 630 participants also wore a device on their wrists that tracked their sleep data.
The study showed that the risk of heart disease was higher among those who reported more sleep health problems. For those who reported on their sleep health, the researchers found each additional risk factor increased the overall risk of heart disease by nearly 55%. However, when looking at both self-reported information and data from the sleep tracker, the risk of heart disease was nearly three times as high, at 141%; the researchers believe this figure is more accurate.
The team also looked at how different demographic factors may play a role in the relationship between sleep health and heart health. They learned that Black participants were more likely to struggle with both heart disease and sleep health issues. Men also had a greater prevalence of heart disease, while women were more likely to have poorer sleep health. However, in both instances, race and gender weren’t found to significantly impact the relationship between sleep and heart disease.
Because consumers’ sleep routines can be adjusted and modified, the researchers hope these findings create more awareness about these health risks and help professionals identify those who have a higher risk of developing long-term heart health issues.
“The higher estimated risk in those who provided both self-report and actigraphy sleep data suggests that measuring sleep health accurately and comprehensively is more important to increase the prediction of heart disease,” Lee said.