Study: Too much sleep just as bad for you as not sleeping enough

WASHINGTON — The amount of sleep you get — or lack thereof — can make a big difference when it comes to your health. According to a recent study, getting too much sleep is just as bad for your heart as not getting enough.

Researchers from the American College of Cardiology investigated sleep patterns of 1,752 people form Corinthia area of Greece. Using a questionnaire, cardiologists were able to analyze how sleep affects health. People in the study range from 40 to 98 years-old. The participants also underwent ultrasound imaging to measure the thickness of their arterial walls.

How shuteye impacts your arteries

The report reveals a pattern between the amount of sleep people get and atherosclerosis, the collection of fats and plaques in the arteries. The thicker these heart structures are indicates the level of plaque buildup. This has a link to an increase in risk for cardiovascular issues, including a patient’s chance of stroke.

Study authors say finding the balance in your sleep pattern is essential. Six to eight hours of sleep is ideal. Artery walls were found to suffer plaque buildups in patients who sleep less and more than this amount each night.

“The message, based on our findings, is ‘sleep well, but not too well.’ Getting too little sleep appears bad for your health but too much seems to be harmful as well,” says lead author Evangelos Oikonomou in a media release.

“Unlike other heart disease risk factors such as age or genetics, sleep habits can be adjusted, and even after taking into consideration the impact of established risk factors for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases–for example age, gender, obesity, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure and even a history of coronary artery disease–both short and long sleeping duration may act as additional risk factors.”

Sleep is vital for preventing disease

The study adds the amount of sleep someone may need varies on age and other factors. One out of every three American adults don’t sleep enough according to the the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Poor mental health, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and even death can result from poor sleep habits.

Since the sleep patterns were self-reported, researchers say this factor makes it difficult to solidify the results. Further research is needed to see the effects of sleep on the heart.

“We don’t fully understand the relationship between sleep and cardiovascular health. It could be that sympathetic nervous system withdrawal or a slowing [of this system] that occurs during sleep may act as a recovery phase for [usual] vascular and cardiac strain,” Oikonomou explains.

“Moreover, short sleep duration may be associated with increased cardiovascular risk factors–for example, unhealthy diet, stress, being overweight or greater alcohol consumption–whereas longer sleep duration may be associated with a less active lifestyle pattern and lower physical activity.”

The findings were presented at the ACC’s Annual Scientific Session Together with World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.20/WCC).

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