Long and short sleep duration linked to CVD risk

Sleeping for more or less than seven hours a day may be an indication of an underlying risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), US research suggests.

Recent study supports sleep duration of seven hours as the optimum (Photograph: Istock)
Recent study supports sleep duration of seven hours as the optimum (Photograph: Istock)

Researchers from the West Virginia University School of Medicine showed that people who regularly slept for five hours or less were 2.2 times as likely to have suffered CVD in the past as those who slept for seven hours. In addition, those sleeping for nine hours or more had a 1.6-times greater risk of developing CVD.

The authors said a person's sleeping patterns could be an important marker for CVD risk.

The research team analysed the responses of 30,397 adults to a health questionnaire, and included data on average sleeping time adjusted for lifestyle factors such as smoking, diabetes and hypertension.

The primary outcome was a prior incident of CVD, including angina, MI and stroke.

The researchers found that respondents who slept for less than seven hours were more likely to have suffered from angina. Both short and long durations of sleep were associated with patients having suffered from MI and stroke.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to disturbances in endocrine and metabolic functions, while long sleep duration may suggest underlying sleep-disordered breathing.

Both short and long sleep durations have been linked to CVD risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

However, the study's design limited the ability of the researchers to make a causal link. The study assessed the sleeping patterns of people who had previously suffered a CVD event, rather than the effect of sleeping duration on future risk after a follow-up period.

Study lead Dr Anoop Shankar said: 'Our study findings may have important clinical and public health implications, such as screening for changes in sleep duration by primary care physicians as a potential risk factor for CVD, or initiating public health initiatives focusing on improving sleep quality and quantity.'

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