A recent study found that 7 in 10 cardiovascular conditions could be prevented by getting good sleep. That study is from the European Society of Cardiology.
Researchers gathered 7,200 participants and looked at their sleep habits and heart health for 10 years. They say they discovered that those with the highest sleep scores had 75% lower risk of heart health issues than people with the lowest scores. Dr. Kevin Ball, interventional cardiologist with Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis, says that study is right on the money.
“It’s not a cure-everything tomorrow, but really working toward better sleep hygiene can lower your risk going forward,” said Ball. “Getting rid of technology from the bedside. Get off your phone, get rid of the light distractions, turn off the TV and focus on a quiet, dark place and shoot for the same time every night. Now in our world that is very very difficult to do. But the more we can do it the better we’ll be with training ourselves with good sleep hygiene.”
That’s why he says more physicians need to talk about sleep with their patients as a primary prevention.
“We need to refocus on our sleep hygiene and especially parents and people raising children and young adults, we need to spread this word down so we are giving good advice and good coaching and training our kids and young adults how to develop these skills at an early age,” said Ball.
You might be familiar with the fight or flight reflex. Ball says sleep deprivation will put you “more into that fight reflex.”
“That in turn will ramp up hormones and increase blood pressure. Certainly things like sleep apnea raise pressures in heart and put you at risk for a multitude of heart issues, including strokes and abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation,” said Ball.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-8 hours of sleep for adults 65 years and older. That foundation reported the majority of people over 55 are only getting 6-7 hours of sleep each night on average, slightly below the recommended 7-8 hours for their age group.