high blood pressure (up to 46%), Type 2 diabetes (up to 51%), obesity (up to 58%) and waist-line fat (up to 54%) than those who did.
The study also found that compared with people who got too little or too much sleep, those who got the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep had a 29% lower chance of having high blood pressure.
Future clinical studies are needed to figure out how improving multidimensional sleep might lower cardiovascular risks, Makarem adds.
Marie-Pierre St-Onge, a sleep researcher who was not involved in the research, said the study “provides more support for the role sleep has in association with cardiovascular disease risk.”
But the research was limited in that it only looked at data from one specific point in time. And it’s unknown if sleep is impacting risk for these conditions or if the conditions are impacting sleep, St-Onge, associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University in New York City says.
How to monitor your sleep habits
Makarem says doctors need to be more vigilant about diagnosing and treating sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, and screening for sleep problems. But she also pointed out people need to pay more attention to their sleep habits, what time they go to bed and wake up each day, and how much sleep they get.
“One of the most important things is to have a fixed, consistent sleep schedule, getting seven to eight hours on both weekdays and weekends.”
It’s also important to limit alcohol, caffeine and large meals before bedtime, she said. Being physically active during the day and making sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and at a comfortable temperature can help you fall asleep more easily at night and improve your overall sleep health.
St-Onge, who led the writing of a 2016 AHA scientific statement about the health implications of sleep duration and quality, says people need to remove all screens and stressors long before bedtime and think about sleep rituals the same way parents do with their children.
“We don’t excite kids before we put them to bed. We have a calming routine, like a bath and bedtime story, so they fall asleep easily,” she concludes. “You need to maintain calming rituals throughout your whole life and not give them up just because you reach 21.”