Adults who sleep less than 7 hours a night have older hearts, concludes study

The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep each night. People who lack or exceed the needed amount of sleep are more prone to diseases. A new study has revealed that those who sleep less than or greater than seven hours a day were more likely to have older hearts or increased excess heart age, although the rates were greater in short sleepers.

Included in the study were 12,775 adults aged 30 to 74 years. They were respondents to the 2007-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), in which they self-reported their sleep duration. Their sleep duration was divided into five categories: five or less, six, seven, eight, and nine or more hours of sleep each night.

In order to measure the heart age of each participant, the researchers used the sex-specific Framingham heart age algorithm. In order to analyze the association between sleep duration and excess heart age or risk of excess heart age of 10 years or more, they used multivariable linear or logistic regression.

The researchers discovered that participants who slept for seven hours every night had the youngest heart or lowest excess heart age. Moreover, those who slept less than or more than seven hours were more likely to have an increase in excess heart age. However, the greatest increases in excess heart age were observed in participants who had short amounts of sleep each night.

“These results are important because they demonstrate a quantitative method for the inclusion of sleep duration in the establishment and communication of cardiovascular risk for individuals,” said primary researcher and study author Julia Durmer of Emory University.

The findings of the study were presented at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

The consequences of having not enough or too much sleep

Both lacking sleep and oversleeping are not good for the heart. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has suggested that getting the average amount of sleep, or seven hours per day, is the best.

A group of women who were enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study was questioned about their sleep habits in 1986 and 2000. Over a later period of six years, the memory and thinking skills of the participants were tested three times.

The study researchers observed that women who slept five hours or fewer each night or nine hours or more exhibited worse performance on brain testing, in comparison to those who slept for seven to eight hours every night. Furthermore, based on the estimates of the researchers, undersleepers and oversleepers were two years older mentally than the women who had an average amount of sleep each night.

Undersleeping and oversleeping also increase the risk of diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and depression. People who constantly lack sleep are more at risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, and narrowed blood vessels. Because each of these can impair blood flow inside the brain, the ability of brain cells to function properly will be affected. Sleep deprivation also contributes to a decline in memory and thinking and increases the risk of dementia. People who oversleep also tend to have poor sleep quality. It is important to have the right amount and quality of sleep for optimal health. (Related: Losing Sleep? Berry Sleepy Provides a Natural Sleep Solution.)

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