July 3, 2013
Sleep Prevents Heart Disease, Study Claims

Sleep helps prevent heart disease, according to a new study conducted by a team of heart specialists in the Netherlands.

The study suggests that heart health benefits when we sleep for at least seven or more hours per night.

Researchers suggest that proper sleep should be combined with exercise and diet to prolong a person's life.

The study involved tracking 14,000 men and women for more than a decade. By the end of the study, 600 participants had suffered from heart disease or stroke and 129 participants had died.

Researchers discovered that death was less likely in people who exercised more, ate healthy, drank in moderation, and did not smoke. Those four lifestyle choices helped lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57 percent and the chance of dying from a stroke or heart disease by 67 percent.

When sleep was added into the equation, researchers found that people who sleep for seven or more hours per night have a 65% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and an 83% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

While other studies have demonstrated an association between poor sleep and cardiovascular disease, this is the first study to combine the four other healthy lifestyle recommendations to show reduced risk.

According to researchers at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, and Wageningen University:

"If all participants adhered to all five healthy lifestyle factors, 36% of composite cardiovascular disease [heart disease or stroke] and 57% of fatal cardiovascular disease could theoretically be prevented or postponed."

Researcher further note:

"The public health impact of sufficient sleep duration, in addition to the traditional healthy lifestyle factors, could be substantial."

Researchers make a very distinct disclaimer that a poor night's sleep doesn't mean you will develop heart disease; it just means you will not receive the benefits that a good night's sleep offers.

Do you think a good nights sleep of seven or more hours is important for a healthy lifestyle?

[Image via ShutterStock]