Getting a good night’s sleep is one of many ways to support a healthy heart. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association expands on this insight by showing that adults ages 58-78 with irregular sleep patterns were more likely to have underlying risk factors for heart disease.
After controlling for multiple factors, researchers found adults whose nightly sleep varied by more than two hours each week, such as sleeping six hours one night and eight hours the next, were more likely than those with regular sleep patterns to have plaque in their coronary arteries. Adults with varying sleep patterns were also more likely to have other cardiovascular disease risks, such as poor lower-body circulation. The authors conclude more research is needed to understand how insufficient sleep contributes to atherosclerosis, a hardening or narrowing of the arteries that can increase the risk for a heart attack or stroke. However, in the meantime, they recommend that getting consistent sleep each night may help offset these risks.
The study was partially supported by NHLBI and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.