Healthy sleep, for your heart’s sake

A large study concludes that a full night’s sleep can contribute to good heart health.

Anyone who rises out of bed in the morning and doesn’t walk to the kitchen – still half asleep – to groggily wait for their first strong cup of coffee can attest to the importance and positive effect a solid night’s sleep can have.

Now, though, researchers have confirmed the impact and extent it can have on one’s health.

Researchers at Tulane University in New Orleans analyzed data collected from more than 400,000 men and women in England, across a range of ages, and concluded that those with healthy sleep habits were more than 40 percent less likely to develop quality-of-life-limiting heart disease.

Anonymous participants were first assigned a sleep score, which took into account several factors, including their sleep duration, presence of insomnia, if they snore or not, if they’re tired during the day and whether they’re an “early riser” or “night owl.”

Participants’ medical history was also considered, specifically age, family history of heart disease and if they have high blood pressure, diabetes or are considered obese.

Ultimately, researchers determined that those whose sleep was scored as healthy were less likely to develop heart disease by 42 percent when compared with the other participants, even when other risk factors are considered.

Healthy sleep

Sleep experts and other health professionals strongly encourage everyone to consider a list of best practices to aid in getting a full and satisfying night’s sleep.
  • A consistent sleep schedule (going to bed around the same time every night)
  • Regular, vigorous exercise
  • A healthy diet
  • Avoid nicotine and alcohol
  • Limit caffeine
  • Limit naps and keep them short
  • Use the bedroom only for sleeping

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for one in every four deaths.