Poor quality sleep linked to heart disease

by | Cardiovascular Health, Sleep

Getting poor quality sleep can increase your risk of heart disease and premature death by up to seven years, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney and at the University of Southern Denmark.

The study examined the data of over 300,000 adults in the UK Biobank and found that different types of sleep disturbances can lead to varied spans of compromised heart health. The researchers developed what they called a “composite sleep score,” which included information like a person’s sleep duration, whether or not they snored, their daytime sleepiness, insomnia complaints, and whether they were an early bird or night owl, to create three categories: poor, intermediate, and healthy sleep. They compared this to the participants’ overall cardiovascular disease-free health expectancy.

Men and women with sleep-related breathing disorders (such as sleep apnea) on average lost more than seven years of cardiovascular disease-free life. But even general poor sleep was found to typically result in a loss of about two years of normal heart health in men and women. The study showed that women with poor sleep are likely to experience two years more of compromised cardiovascular health compared to healthy sleepers, while men experience more than two years. People who fell into the ‘intermediate’ sleep category lost almost one year of heart disease-free life if they were women, while men lost slightly more.

This research also emphasised that snoring, in conjunction with difficulty sleeping, could be a warning sign of other potential health issues in the future. The authors say it’s essential to prioritise sleep quality to reduce the risk of heart disease and other health problems.

REFERENCES

Huang, BH., del Pozo Cruz, B., Teixeira-Pinto, A. et al. Influence of poor sleep on cardiovascular disease-free life expectancy: a multi-resource-based population cohort study. BMC Med 21, 75 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-023-02732-x