New Study Shows Healthy Sleep Habits Help Lower Risk of Heart Failure by 42%

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Adults with the healthiest sleep patterns—those who are morning risers, sleeping 7-8 hours a day with no frequent insomnia—experienced a 42% reduction in the risk of heart failure compared to those with unhealthy sleep patterns.

And this remains the case regardless of other risk factors, according to new research published by the American Heart Association in the journal Circulation.

Heart failure affects more than 26 million people, and emerging evidence indicates sleep problems may play a role in the development of heart failure.

This observational study described healthy sleep patterns as early rising in the morning, sleeping 7-8 hours a day, and having no frequent insomnia, snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness.

It included data on 408,802 UK participants, ages 37 to 73, who were recruited between 2006 and 2010. Incidence of heart failure was collected until 2019, with researchers recording 5,221 cases of heart failure during a median follow-up of 10 years.

After collecting data through touchscreen questionnaires, researchers analyzed sleep quality and overall sleep patterns, including whether the participant was a night owl and if they were likely to unintentionally doze off or fall asleep during the daytime.

“The healthy sleep score we created was based on the scoring of these five sleep behaviors,” said Lu Qi, M.D., Ph.D., corresponding author and professor of epidemiology and director of the Obesity Research Center at Tulane University in New Orleans. “Our findings highlight the importance of improving overall sleep patterns to help prevent heart failure.”

After adjusting for diabetes, hypertension, medication use, genetic variations, and other co-variates, participants with the healthiest sleep pattern had a 42% reduction in the risk of heart failure compared to people with an unhealthy sleep pattern.

8% lower in early risers;
12% lower in those who slept 7 to 8 hours daily;
17% lower in those who did not have frequent insomnia; and
34% lower in those reporting no daytime sleepiness.

The researchers noted other unmeasured or unknown adjustments may have also influenced the findings, but the study’s strengths include its novelty, prospective study design, and large sample size.

Funding came from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, along with the Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center.