Sleep may be just as important to heart health as diet and physical activity, research finds
The new findings from a study published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke indicate that sleep may have the same impact on the heart as diet and physical activity.
Researchers studied more than 2,700 adults at high risk for heart disease in three European countries. As a result, about half of the participants were obese and more than half were classified as having pre-hypertension or hypertension.
Participants had no history of heart disease. Researchers used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index to assess sleep quality. Researchers also had participants complete a variety of questionnaires: the Short Form Health Survey, physical activity log, dietary history and blood draw. These measures provided a range of baseline characteristics that helped researchers to establish relationships between sleep quality indicators and hypertension or cardiovascular disease risk.
After accounting for age, sex, race, education, income, smoking and other factors, and after adjusting for all of the above, there was a strong association between poorer sleep quality and higher blood pressure, particularly for hypertensive and obese individuals, according to the study results.
“We found a dose-response relationship between poor sleep quality and hypertension or cardiovascular disease risk factors that cannot be explained by the number of other risk factors they have,” said study researcher Dr. Richard J. J. O’Keefe, a professor of epidemiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
The researchers also observed that the greater the amount of sleep you have, the harder it is to get a good night’s rest and also that short sleep times (such as when getting up only to eat breakfast) during the night are linked to blood pressure levels, blood sugar levels, and total cholesterol.
“People often think of obesity as being something that’s related to the physical inactivity and then they think it’s only about eating fewer calories and exercising more, but we’ve learned now that sleep is as important as the physical activity we do at any age and age at risk or the diet we eat,