A recent study looks at how much sleep you really need to have a healthy heart

For most people, 24 hours is not enough to accomplish all of their responsibilities and pursue their passions. To get more out of their day, they spend less of it on sleep. However, most people overlook that sleep is crucial to stay in top shape and for the body to recover from all the damage it acquires throughout the day. People who do not get enough rest have a higher risk of health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Getting enough sleep is highly recommended by healthcare professionals for optimum health, but how many hours do people actually need? A recent American study, conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), revealed the necessary amount of sleep that a person should get to keep their heart healthy.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. The increasing mortality cases associated with this health condition can be correlated with the increasing number of adults who are deprived of sleep. Previous studies have shown that lack of sleep increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, heart attack, and hypertension.

In this study, published in the journal Sleep Health, researchers assessed the effects of sleep duration on excessive heart age, which was determined based on the difference between the predicted age, based on their cardiovascular risk profile, and their actual ages. A total of 12,000 participants who were between 30 to 74 years old were observed in this study.

The researchers observed that people who slept less than five hours per night have greater excessive heart age (5.1 years) than people who got seven hours of sleep (3.7 years). Moreover, they observed that eight hours of sleep increases heart age by 4.5 years. From these results, the researchers suggested that insufficient hours of sleep compromise cardiovascular health by promoting chronic, low-level inflammation. Meanwhile, they attributed the health risks associated with eight hours of sleep to variables like unemployment, mental health problems, or smoking. Moreover, the results of previous studies are also mixed regarding this issue. Because of this, it is still not recommended for people who get eight hours of sleep to start aiming for seven hours instead since the effects are not yet clear.

The authors of the study also observed a stronger association between sleep duration and heart age in women than in men. This was in line with results of previous studies that showed that women need more sleep than men.

In addition to improved heart health, the following health benefits can also be enjoyed by people who get adequate hours of sleep:

  • Lowered cancer risk
  • Heightened alertness
  • Improved memory
  • Weight loss
  • Enhanced memory
  • Reduced stress

Sleep is one of the most important factors that affect health. Furthermore, it is also one of the easiest to achieve since many people actually enjoy sleeping. By just setting aside at least seven hours of your day for sleep, you can significantly improve your cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of other diseases. (Related: Sleep most important ingredient of good health, even over diet and exercise, according to scientists.)

Improving sleep quality

Getting enough hours of sleep does not guarantee optimum health since it is also important to consider the quality of sleep that you are getting. For sleep to be considered good quality, you have to remain asleep through the night and fall asleep within 30 minutes. If you find yourself staring at the ceiling for hours on end before finally falling asleep, here are some tips on how to improve sleep quality:

  • Avoid taking naps
  • Follow a sleep schedule
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce food and alcohol intake at night
  • Read bedtime stories
  • Keep room temperature at 65 F
  • Block out light

For more articles about maintaining heart health, visit Heart.news

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