A Spanish study has suggested that people who sleep less than six hours a night may be more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who sleep seven to eight hours. In the study, 3,974 bank workers wore activity trackers to measure sleep for one week and also had 3D heart ultrasounds and cardiac CT scans to look for heart disease.
Researchers found that compared to people who got seven to eight hours of sleep, those who slept less than six hours a night were 27 percent more likely to have “preclinical” atherosclerosis: structural changes and thickening in the artery walls that isn’t yet serious enough to cause complications.
Previous research has linked lack of sleep to traditional risk factors for heart diseases like high blood sugar, high blood pressure, inflammation, and obesity.
Senior study author Jose Ordovas, a researcher at the CNIC in Madrid and director of nutrition and genomics at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston said, “Sleep, together with diet and physical activity, (is) one of the healthy habits that we need to adopt and maintain to keep our cardiovascular system healthy. Our results support the traditional belief that we should have about eight hours of good sleep per day,”
Dr. Daniel Gottlieb, director of the sleep disorders center at the VA Boston Healthcare System said, “One key to getting adequate sleep is making sleep a priority by turning off the TV, computer, tablet, and phone at a reasonable hour, keeping a regular sleep schedule, making time to relax before bed, and avoiding caffeine late in the day. Exercise and a good diet can also help to improve sleep quality.”