Getting an average of seven hours of sleep each night is associated with better heart health, according to a new study unveiled Monday at a conference dedicated to sleep in Baltimore.
The study, led by Emory University researcher Julia Durmer, focused on how sleep affects “heart age” — an evaluation of heart health relative to a person’s actual age. For many adults in the U.S., having high blood pressure, smoking, being overweight or obese, and having diabetes are all risk factors increasing the stress on one’s heart.
For a 45-year-old male with all of these risk-factors, his heart age would be equivalent to that of a 75-year-old.
Ms. Durmer and colleagues surveyed 12,775 adults between the ages of 30 and 74 on their self-reported sleep habits. They found that sleeping more or less than seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period was associated with an increased excess heart age, with the highest excess heart age in short sleepers.
“These results are important because they demonstrate a quantitative method for the inclusion of sleep duration in the establishment and communication of cardiovascular risk for individuals,” said Ms. Durmer, a student researcher at Emory’s Center for the Study of Human Health.
“This could have utility in the clinical care of patients with cardiovascular risk, and for public health researchers interested in adding a sleep metric to future studies.”
The full results of the report will be presented on Monday at the 32nd annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC in Baltimore.