How much sleep does your heart need to stay healthy?
Getting hearty sleep can affect your cardiovascular health. For the first time, the American Heart Association (AHA) is adding sleep to its list of factors used to quantify cardiovascular health. The researchers advise tailoring how long you sleep to your age to evade extreme health consequences.
Sleep recommendations based on your age
- Ages 0 to 1: 12 to 16 hours
- Ages 1 to 2: 11 to 14 hours
- Ages 3 to 5: 10 to 13 hours
- Ages 6 to 12: 9 to 12 hours
- Ages 13 to 18: 8 to 10 hours
- Ages 19 and older: 7 to 9 hours
The research looked at health records from more than 23,000 participants ages 2 to 79. Researchers looked at how well self-reported average hours of nightly sleep matched recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). They detected strong sleep scores associated with other behaviours necessary for heart health, such as a healthy diet and physical activity.
The sweet spot is seven to nine hours for adults. If you’re going over that, it’s not quite as valuable. And if you’re sleeping under seven hours, you have more and more health risks.
What of napping? Does it count for your heart?
For children 5 years and younger, who may be on a napping schedule already, nap time is included in their 24-hour sleep recommendations. Naps are not included in the adult’s metrics, but power naps can be a good way to get in some extra sleep for adults who cannot meet the seven to nine-hour benchmark at night.
How does sleep affect heart health?
Lack of sleep or poor sleep can put people at risk for severe heart problems, like heart attacks and stroke. Research has only recently begun to uncover this connection, and there is more info to dig up.
The review adds sleep to the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Essential 8” list, which summarises lifestyle factors that serve as indicators for cardiovascular health status and potential cardiovascular health risks. The full list includes:
- Physical activity
- Nicotine exposure
- Sleep duration
- Body mass index (BMI)
- Blood lipids
- Blood glucose
- Blood pressure
The quality of your sleep counts
Getting in the recommended hours of sleep for your age group could enhance your heart health. But if you aren’t sleeping soundly, it can only do so much.
Sleep quality can be influenced by factors like how many times a person wakes up during the night, if they have a high heart rate or trouble breathing, or whether or not they experience sleep apnea. And sleep quality and sleep duration don’t always follow the same line.
In a study that evaluated how sleep patterns change as people age, researchers found that the amount of time people spend sleeping decreases until about age 40, and then increases later in life. However, sleep efficiency, a metric the researchers related most closely to quality, declined past age 40.
In summary, sacrificing sleep can hurt your heart. Doing your best to meet sleep guidelines for your age group can help stave off heart attack and stroke.