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Warning: Not getting enough sleep could increase your heart disease risk

by , 11 November 2013

A large US study has found that people who get less than six hours sleep a night are more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and tend to be obese. These are all risk factors for heart disease…

According to a Health24 report, the research which is the first to look at differences in risk between racial and ethnic groups found that insufficient sleep is liked to poor health.

The link between insufficient sleep and poor health explained

Using nationwide survey data from 2008, researchers divided results from more than 5,000 respondents representing the US population into three groups: People who were sleeping less than five hours a night, the next group who slept between five and six hours and people who slept more than nine hours a night.

Here’s what researchers found…

According to the report, people who didn’t get a lot of sleep were twice as likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, compared to people who slept around seven to eight hours a night.

People who slept the less were also 75% more likely to have diabetes and 50% more likely to be obese. They were 20% more likely than normal sleepers to report high blood pressure and obesity.

Sleeping just a few hours at night was strongly linked to high blood pressure among blacks, whites and non-Mexican Hispanics, while people of Asian descent had the strongest link between short sleep and high cholesterol, Health24 reports.

That’s not all.

People who slept the longest at night didn’t appear to experience any negative health effects once researchers adjusted for other factors.

So how much sleep should you be getting?

There’s no consensus on what the ideal minimum amount of sleep should be for good health, said Kristen L. Knutson who studies sleep and heart health in different populations at the University of Chicago’s Department of Medicine.

There’s no set number for sleep, in part “because there’s likely to be some variability in how much sleep different people need,” Knutson said.

She added that the “majority of large studies had found that people who said they slept between seven and eight hours a night were the healthiest. Recommendations vary by age, with younger people generally needing more sleep than older people.”

Researchers noted that this study suggests that short sleep, whatever the cause, is associated with “negative health outcomes”.

The bottom line: Sleep and health are likely linked in a two-way relationship, said Michael A. Grandner, who led the study.
“Less sleep may negatively impact health and certain health conditions like obesity might make sleep more difficult. Lack of sleep limits your body’s ability to keep itself healthy, increasing risk for disease, which puts stress on the body, making sleep harder, it’s likely a cycle like this,” concluded Grandner.

To be on the safe side, make sure you get seven to eight hours sleep a night to reduce your risk of heart disease.

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