The next time you feel lazy for rolling over and giving in to the urge to go back to sleep, remember this – learning how to sleep longer might be doing more than recharging your energy, it could also be keeping your coronary arteries and your heart healthy.
Since the heart needs a constant supply of blood rich in oxygen, the arteries that deliver this supply are super important.
If you have a build up of fatty matter, calcium, proteins and inflammatory cells within the arteries, plaque forms and can lead to trouble such as a heart attack (actually death of cells in the heart muscle) or another heart “event”.
Current numbers have over 1 million Americans having heart attacks each year. The amount of permanent damage that’s done to the heart depends on the size of the area of the heart that’s supplied by the unhealthy artery, and the time between the injury and getting treatment.
Even after treatment and healing of the heart, the ability of this vital muscle to pump blood through your body is diminished. Just how diminished depends on many factors.
New research appearing in the December 24/31, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association makes a fascinating connection between the amount of sleep you get and the likelihood of coronary artery calcification.
This work is the first of its kind to try and objectively measure sleep and use this as a marker for coronary artery calcification and heart disease.
The team of researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center focused on about 500 middle aged and healthy U.S. adults over a five-year period.
These participants were part of another study known as the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, an ongoing project begun in 1985. This long-term study is intended to look at the impact of various factors on the development of coronary artery disease.
At the start of the research the participants had their coronary arteries scanned via computed tomography (CT) scan. They also wore wrist devices, specially designed to measure sleep duration for six nights.
Finally, subjects provided details on their sleeping habits and kept a log of their hours in bed. The group averaged about 6 hours of sleep per night, with few getting more than 8 hours.
At the end of the five-year study subjects had another CT scan that found 12% of participants had developed coronary artery calcification during the study.
Those who slept longer, as reported and confirmed by the wrist monitors were less likely to have developed the artery calcification.
Those who slept less than five hours per night had a 27% greater chance of having calcification in their coronary arteries.
This number fell to 11% for those who got from 5 to 7 hours a night, and went down to 6% for those who got more than seven hours (lucky souls!) of sleep each night.
The benefits of more sleep seemed to be greatest for women.
“One hour more of sleep decreased the estimated odds of calcification by 33%,” University of Chicago’s Christopher Ryan King, and colleagues write. This reduction takes into account the person’s age, sex, race, education level, smoking status and sleep apnea risk.
Are these 7 mistakes killing your sleep?
Frustratingly, at least 25% of adults suffer from insomnia -
With around 18 million prescriptions written every year for expensive sleeping pills…
…it’s clear that there’s a national epidemic.
So, what do doctors do when they can’t sleep?
Here’s the answer.
Learn how a retired M.D. Laney Chouest from New Orleans broke his 5-year addiction to Ambien, and now sleeps peacefully without medication.
Also, how a Licensed Psychologist, Sharon Stein McNamara, Ed.D.from Minnesota broke the insomnia cycle.
Learning How to Sleep Longer Could Benefit Your Heart… continued
The team agrees that more work is needed to confirm the results and lean how the length of sleep is linked to the calcification of these arteries. Just how much sleep is best must also be uncovered by future studies.
Other work has shown that partial sleep depravation may be a risk factor for all kinds of common medical problems. Things like weight gain, diabetes and hypertension.
For now, the good news for you sleepy heads who like to sleep longer, is to roll over and get some more shut eye – your heart might just thank you for it later.