Healthy sleep patterns reduce the risk of heart failure by 42 percent, according to a new study published by the American Heart Association. The protective effects of healthy sleep were found to persist regardless of other risk factors for heart failure.
There is a growing collection of evidence to suggest that poor quality sleep plays a central role in the development of heart failure, which affects more than 26 million people. Healthy sleep patterns are characterized by getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night without frequent insomnia, snoring, or excessive daytime sleepiness.
The study was focused on data from 408,802 UK Biobank participants, who were between 37 and 73 years old at the time of enrollment from 2006 to 2010. During an average follow-up of ten years, the researchers found 5,221 cases of heart failure.
The team analyzed overall sleep patterns and sleep quality, including duration, insomnia, snoring, and other sleep-related factors like daytime sleepiness. Based on the scoring of these sleep behaviors, the experts calculated a healthy sleep score.
Study co-author Dr. Lu Qi is a professor of Epidemiology and the director of the Obesity Research Center at Tulane University in New Orleans. “Our findings highlight the importance of improving overall sleep patterns to help prevent heart failure,” said Dr. Qi.
After adjusting for diabetes, hypertension, medication use, genetic variations, and other relevant heart-related risk factors, the study revealed that individuals with the highest sleep scores and healthiest sleep patterns had a 42-percent lower risk of heart failure compared to unhealthy sleepers.
According to the researchers, the risk of heart failure was independently associated and found to be 8 percent lower in early risers, 12 percent lower in those who slept 7 to 8 hours daily, and 34 percent lower among individuals who reported no daytime sleepiness.
Dr. Qi noted that the study’s strengths include its novelty, prospective study design, and large sample size.
The research is published in the journal Circulation.