Improving sleep quality may benefit cardiac health

Posted in , , , by Miss Kornelija Dedelaite

71% of adult UK citizens do not get the required seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Sleep may appear like a luxury in our hectic lifestyle, where we are overly devoted to our personal and professional lives. However, getting a decent night’s sleep is now known to play a significant role in preserving general health, and cardiovascular health in particular.

Sleep disorders and heart health

Numerous factors have linked the risk of heart illness to sleep disturbances. The two most prevalent sleep disorders are insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which have an effect on both the length and quality of sleep, ultimately affecting cardiometabolic health. OSA is a severe sleep disorder in which the tongue or tissues in the throat obstruct the airway, causing breathing to stop or become shallower several times during the night. According to estimates, 10% to 25% of adults are affected. Another common sleep problem that often goes undetected is insomnia, which is thought to affect up to 25% of individuals. Everyone with atrial fibrillation and heart failure should get screened for OSA, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Poor sleep and bad eating habits

In a recent study, over 500 women’s eating and sleeping habits—which also have an impact on cardiovascular health—were examined. The results were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The women answered questions about the quality of their sleep, how long it took them to fall asleep, and whether or not they experienced insomnia. In addition, they disclosed their eating patterns.

According to the study, women who slept poorly ingested more additional sugars than those who slept well. Women who took longer to fall asleep ate a higher total amount of food and calories. Furthermore, women who slept poorly had higher odds of overeating and making bad dietary decisions. It is established that a poor diet raises the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

We are unable to establish causation from this study because it is observational in nature. We can speculate that sleep deprivation affects the feeling of fullness or satisfaction, most likely through intricate hormonal signalling. We can also think about how eating too much of the incorrect sorts of food or having a bad diet may interfere with our ability to get to sleep and stay asleep. Furthermore, obesity is linked to poor diet and overeating, which is a significant risk factor for CVD.

Regular bedtimes and consistent sleep duration are beneficial for the heart

A further recent study connected irregular sleep to the onset of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. For five years, about 2,000 adult men and women without CVD were tracked in this study. Participants tracked their activities and sleep using wrist trackers. In addition, participants in the study answered questions regarding their food and did a thorough sleep study.

The risk of heart disease was observed to increase with inconsistent sleep duration, according to researchers. Compared to people who had less variability in their sleep length and more constant bedtimes, those who had the most irregular sleep duration and variable bedtimes were more than twice as likely to develop heart disease. Numerous factors, according to researchers, may be connected to unhealthy metabolic alterations that increase the risk of CVD, including obesity, diabetes, and raised cholesterol, as well as irregular sleep habits. Furthermore, since sleep may have an impact on our metabolic health, making healthy food choices may be even more crucial when we lack sleep.

How can sleep help?

An increasing body of research indicates that insufficient sleep is connected to a number of health issues, such as an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. According to a new study on middle-aged adults, experiencing many sleep-related issues, such as difficulty falling asleep, early morning awakenings, or fewer than six hours of sleep per night, can almost treble an individual’s chance of developing heart disease.

Lack of sleep can be caused by a variety of factors. Some just don’t schedule enough time for rest. Some people have routines that hinder or disturb their sleep. Furthermore, some persons experience disturbances in the quantity or quality of their sleep due to a medical condition or sleep disorder.

Who participated in this study?

In this study, 7,483 participants provided information regarding their sleep patterns and history of heart disease. This data was gathered by the researchers. A wrist-worn gadget was also utilised by a subset of the total participants (663), to record their sleep activities. Women made up just over half of the participants. Of those surveyed, 75% identified as white and 16% as black. 53 was the average age.

Because midlife is a time when adults typically endure a wide range of challenging events in both their personal and professional lives, researchers decided to concentrate on individuals at this stage of life. Additionally, this is the time when age-related sleep problems and atherosclerosis, an early warning sign of heart disease, begin to manifest.

How was sleep measured?

A composite of several components of sleep was used to measure sleep health, including:

  • regularity – the length of time individuals slept on work days compared to nonwork days.
  • contentment – whether they experienced difficulty going asleep, woke up during the night or early morning and were unable to go back to sleep, or experienced daytime drowsiness.
  • alertness – frequency of naps lasting more than five minutes.
  • efficiency – the amount of time it took them to get to sleep at night.
  • duration – the average number of hours they slept per night.

Researchers asked individuals questions such as “Have you ever had heart trouble suspected or confirmed by a doctor?” or “Have you ever had a severe pain across the front of your chest lasting half an hour or more?” in order to gauge heart-related issues. Answers “yes” to either question led to more inquiries regarding the diagnosis, covering conditions such angina, heart attack, illness of the heart valves, fast or irregular pulse, and heart failure.

Increased cardiac risk associated with poor sleep

The results were adjusted for potential confounding variables such as a family history of heart disease, smoking, physical activity, sex, and race. In comparison to those who had regular sleep patterns, they discovered that a 54% higher risk of heart disease was associated with every incremental rise in self-reported sleep disorders. Those who provided both wrist-worn device and self-reported data, which together are thought to be more accurate, had a substantially larger increase in risk (141%).

Men were more likely to have heart disease than women, despite the fact that women reported more sleep issues. However, the relationships between heart health and sleep were not impacted by sex overall.

Because this study is observational, the reported relationships cannot be conclusively proven. The researchers found that minorities have an estimated greater risk of heart disease than white people, regardless of sleep health issues. Heart health is influenced by the social determinants of health, which include things like income and living and working environments.

What can this mean for you?

There are numerous approaches to treating typical sleep difficulties, ranging from minor adjustments to everyday routines such as meditation, reducing screen time before bed to specialised cognitive behavioural treatment focused on sleep problems. These are definitely worth a try because a restful night’s sleep has numerous benefits.

At Echelon Health we are committed to provide the most comprehensive health assessment possible using our extensive medical skills and the best imaging technologies available in the UK. We can advise you on lifestyle changes and if you have any questions or other concerns we are happy to design an assessment that focuses on the areas you need.

Our flagship Platinum Assessment is one of the most comprehensive out there. It can detect up to 92% and 95% of the causes of early death in men and women, respectively, using the most advanced imaging technologies.

We believe that only by using the correct imaging technology for the correct body part you will be able to get the best results, as such we utilise CT, MRI and ultrasound scans where appropriate to get the most detailed images and results about your health. The following components make up our Platinum assessment:

  • Blood Tests
  • ECG
  • CT Aorta
  • CT Heart
  • CT Coronary Angiogram
  • CT Chest
  • CT Abdomen
  • CT Pelvis
  • CT Virtual Colonoscopy
  • CT Bone Density
  • EOS CT Upright Skeleton
  • MRI Brain
  • MRI Cerebral Artery Angiogram
  • MRI Carotid Artery Angiogram
  • MRI Prostate
  • Ultrasound Thyroid
  • Ultrasound Testes/Ovaries
  • Digital Mammogram
  • Full Body Mole Screen

If you would like to find out more about Echelon Health and the assessments we provide, do not hesitate to contact us! Our team would be delighted to help.