Those suffering from sleep disorders may benefit from improving their overall sleep health. Improving your overall sleep health could help lower your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other cardiovascular threats, according to new research.
Experts already knew a lack of sleep and having sleep disorders can put health at risk. But the new study looked into whether the multiple factors that go into a good night’s sleep are collectively associated with health risks.
To measure overall sleep health, the researchers created a multi-dimensional score based on the average amount of sleep each night, the consistency of bedtime and wake-up times, and how long it takes to fall asleep. They also factored in excessive daytime sleepiness and symptoms of sleep disorders such as snoring and difficulty breathing during sleep.
Then, they calculated an overall sleep health score of “poor,” “moderate” or “ideal” for 4,559 adults who took part in the 2017-18 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The NHANES is ongoing research consisting of household interviews and physical exams conducted as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s work to gather health statistics.
What the study shows
The new study found that compared to people with poor sleep scores, those with ideal sleep health had 66% lower odds of high blood pressure, 58% reduced odds of Type 2 diabetes, 73% lower odds of obesity, and 69% lower odds of central adiposity, or waist-line fat.
“Multidimensional sleep health is important because our sleep habits are not isolated, they’re interrelated. Sleep health as a whole may be stronger than the sum of its parts,” says the study’s lead researcher Dr. Nour Makarem, a cardiovascular epidemiologist and assistant professor at Columbia University in New York City.
She compared evaluating sleep health to determining what makes up a healthy diet. “We don’t consume different foods and nutrients in isolation of each other. It’s the same with the different aspects of sleep.”
In addition to looking at overall sleep health, researchers zeroed in on the separate sleep factors.
For example, people who didn’t have trouble falling asleep and never or rarely snored or experienced daytime sleepiness had lower odds of