If You Sleep This Much, You're Putting Your Heart at Risk, New Study Says

Research shows there may be a magic number when it comes to how many hours you need.

When it comes to health knowledge, the importance of getting enough sleep has become as common as making sure to eat right and exercise. Ensuring plenty of shut eye has been proven to help your body and brain get the rest and repair they need to be at their best. But according to a new study, it's not just sleeping too little that can be an issue. As far as your heart health goes, getting a specific number of hours of sleep can be the best way to make sure you're not doing damage. Anything more or less puts your heart in harm's way. Read on to see what researchers say is the slumber sweet spot, and for more nighttime health warnings, If This Wakes You Up at Night, Your Heart May Be in Danger, Experts Warn.

A new study found that six to seven hours of sleep is necessary to keep your heart healthy.

man has a heart attack symptoms while sleeping on bed at night

According to researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, there is an ideal amount of sleep that people should be getting to keep their heart health in check. Their new study, which will soon be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 70th Annual Scientific Session, examined data from 14,079 respondents in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey taken between 2005 and 2010, which included questions on how long each person usually slept at night.

Participants were then tracked for an average of 7.5 years to see if they died of heart disease, heart failure, or stroke, with less than 10 percent previously reporting a history of the medical ailments. What they found was that "participants who slept less than six hours or more than seven hours had a higher chance of death due to cardiac causes," Kartik Gupta, MD, the study's lead author and a resident in the hospital's Division of Internal Medicine, said in a statement.

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Researchers determined that sleeping no more than seven hours and no less than six is best for your heart.

Woman sleeping

Researchers also tracked participants' levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and health risk scores—also known as atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk scores—that are used to determine someone's likelihood of having a heart attack. Results showed a U-shaped curve, with the lowest risk falling on those who slept between six and seven hours a night.

"Participants who sleep less or more than six to seven hours have higher ASCVD risk scores, which is likely driven by heightened inflammation as measured by CRP, which was found to be higher among those who had less or more sleep," Gupta said in a statement. "Patients who sleep for six to seven hours have the least CRP, so this inflammation might be driving increased cardiovascular risk."

And for more on cardiovascular health risks, If You Drink This Every Day, Your Heart Could Be in Danger, Study Finds.

The quality of your sleep matters, too.

photo Young Contemplated Woman Lying On Bed

Some experts point out that when it comes to sleep, quality is better than quantity. According to Martha Gulati, MD, editor-in-chief of CardioSmart.org, the American College of Cardiology's educational site for patients, this could be what's increasing the risk of heart disease for people who are sleeping in.

"You wonder if somebody is sleeping longer because they just didn't get a good night's sleep," Gulati told U.S. News & World Report. "I always say there's good sleep and there's bad sleep. You might be in bed for eight hours, but is it good quality sleep?"

And for more signs your health may be in danger, If You Can't Do This Many Push-Ups, Your Heart Is at Risk, Study Says.

Another new study also found a lack of sleep can affect your brain health as well.

Closeup of alarm clock with senior woman in deep sleep in background
Ridofranz / iTock

It's not just your heart health that can suffer from sleeping too much or too little. A study recently published in the journal Nature Communications followed about 8,000 people in Britain starting at age 50 and assessed their sleeping habits and health for 25 years.

The study found that those who regularly slept less than six hours on average weeknights were 30 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who got a "normal" amount of seven hours of sleep per night. "The study found a modest, but I would say somewhat important association of short sleep and dementia risk," Pamela Lutsey, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota, who was not involved in the research, told The New York Times. And for more on your brain health, This Could Be One of the First Signs You Have Dementia, Experts Say.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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