Analysis: Too Little And Too Much Sleep Could Affect Heart Health

A new analysis of studies may have found a connection between our sleep and cardiovascular disease.

The new meta-analysis, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich, Germany, reported that subjects who slept less than six to eight hours a night had worse heart health than those who slept within that range.

Additionally, subjects who slept more than eight hours a night also had an even greater chance of dying from a heart attack or developing cardiovascular diseases.

The analysis’s lead author, Dr. Epameinondas Fountas of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Athens, Greece, said in a release, “Our findings suggest that too much or too little sleep may be bad for the heart.”

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if individuals have questions related to their own health.]

Doctors perform open heart surgery.totojang1977/Shutterstock

Sleep Quality And Cardiovascular Health

The meta-analysis compiled data from 11 prospective studies on sleep duration and heart health, which together included over one million subjects.

Using this information, the researchers compared those who slept less and more than six to eight hours to those who slept within this range.

They found that those who slept less than six hours had an 11 percent higher chance of developing or dying from a coronary event or heart disease. Also, those who slept more than eight hours had a higher chance of cardiovascular disease. This group was 33 percent more likely to struggle with heart issues.

Fountas said, “More research is needed to clarify exactly why, but we do know that sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation — all of which have an impact on cardiovascular disease.”

RELATED: The Benefits Of Getting More Sleep

The Recommended Amount Of Sleep

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults 18 to 60 years of age should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. According to this new analysis, six to eight hours is the “sweet spot” for healthy sleep.

While the CDC’s numbers don’t match exactly with this new analysis, recent research does agree that lack of sleep and poor sleep quality can have an effect on our health.

A woman sleeps under striped covers.
l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock

One study from Texas A&M University found that circadian rhythms are related to a gene that prevents tumorous growths. Another study at the University of Warwick reported a correlation between lack of sleep and depression. In a few studies, sleep disorders and poor sleep hygiene have been connected with Alzheimer’s.

If too little or too much sleep can lead to such serious diseases, how can we be sure to get that sweet spot of proper rest?

Fountas has some advice. “The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get into the habit of getting six to eight hours a night — for example by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed, eating healthily, and being physically active,” he said.

It’s also important to invest in a mattress that helps one sleep well, such as choosing a cooling mattress if a person sleeps hot or investing in a mattress that supports the spine’s natural alignment so individuals aren’t woken up by discomfort.

All told? Fountas (and plenty of other studies) concludes that “Getting the right amount of sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.”

RELATED: What Exactly Is Sleep Hygiene?

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if individuals have questions related to their own health.]

Featured image: interstid/Shutterstock

Marten Carlson

Marten is the Lead Reviewer at Mattress Clarity. He is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and covers the mattress industry as well as sleep science news. He is specifically interested in the connection between sleep and overall health. Marten has written for media publications like Consequence of Sound and received a master’s degree in Film Studies from Emory University. He comes from Franklin, Indiana, and spends all the time he can writing, directing, and acting in films.