Here’s a little something for you to sleep on over the holiday weekend. A new report claims sleepless nights could lead to an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Insomniacs have a couple of more things to worry about as they lie sleepless staring at the ceiling — insomnia increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
“Sleep is important for biological recovery and takes around a third of our lifetime, but in modern society more and more people complain of insomnia,” said Qiao He, first author of a Chinese study that showed the cardiovascular risk of sleepless nights.
Insomnia is a widespread problem in the United States. According to Consumer Reports, more than a quarter of American adults say they have trouble either going to sleep or staying asleep most nights, and 68 percent of adults have problems sleeping at least once a week.
So, how much is not enough? According to Web MD, “Getting less than six hours of sleep a night may double the odds of dying from heart disease or stroke for people who already have risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.”
Researchers were quoted in a United Press International (UPI)_story as breaking down the increase in risks like this:
- Difficulty initiating sleep 27% increase
- Difficulty maintaining sleep 11 % increase
- Insufficiently refreshing sleep 18% increase
The researchers aren’t exactly sure why insomnia may raise the risk of heart attack and stroke, but they do have a few theories: It may trigger activate the part of your nervous system involved in your fight or flight response, increase the amount of inflammatory proteins in your body, or even raise your blood pressure—all factors which can make you more vulnerable to cardio-cerebral vascular events, the researchers say.
But it’s also possible that depression may be a driving factor behind insomnia, and that can also independently raise your risk of heart attack and stroke. Many of the studies the researchers analyzed didn’t ask about depressive symptoms, so it’s possible that could have influenced the findings.
Sleep Review pointed out that women who found it difficult to sleep had a slightly higher risk of cardiovascular and stroke events than men, especially for insufficiently refreshing or non-restorative sleep. However, the difference between sexes did not reach statistical significance. Still, researchers believe that finding could make it “prudent to pay more attention to women’s sleep health.”
Share your thoughts on the results of this study and how you believe we can help people who are struggling to sleep find new ways to get more zzz’s. Working together to look for innovative solutions to the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!