By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor’s in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
Sleep is important for everything from mental health, to energy levels, and according to a new study published in the journal Sleep Advances, heart health as well. Here’s what the researchers found when they studied the link between heart health and sleep.
Looking at the connection between sleep and heart health.
For this study, researchers analyzed just over 1,000 people with an average age of 62 years old, who had all experienced a heart attack or a procedure to open blocked arteries in the past (average of) 16 months.
The participants filled out an insomnia questionnaire, with questions about energy levels, their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, etc., while data on other risk factors for heart health were collected from their medical records.
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Information was collected at the start of the study, and participants were tracked for an average of just over four years, to see if/when any major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) occurred, such as stroke, heart failure, or cardiovascular death.
Nearly half of the participants had insomnia at the start of the study, and 24% had used sleep medication recently. During the follow-up period, 364 MACE had occurred in 225 of the participants.
What they found.
Based on the findings, it would appear insomnia significantly increases the risk for heart problems, with only smoking and low physical activity as greater risk factors. Namely, insomnia was linked with 16% of MACE in the participants.
As medical student and lead author of the study, Lars Frojd, writes in a news release, “This means that 16% of recurrent major adverse cardiovascular events might have been avoided if none of the participants had insomnia.”
And while, he adds, further research is needed to determine if insomnia treatment would help heart patients, he does conclude that they should be assessed for insomnia and offered resources to support their sleep either way.
The bottom line is, we need quality and consistent sleep for our bodies to function at their best, and heart health is no exception. With insomnia strongly linked to poor heart health, these findings are one more reason to take sleep hygiene seriously.