Making small changes to promote healthy sleep can dramatically improve your health and longevity, including leading to a 42% lower risk of heart failure
There is growing research linking sleep habits with heart health. A healthy sleep pattern for most people, at least in terms of heart health, means seven to nine hours of sleep, little or no insomnia, no snoring, early bird rising and little or no daytime sleepiness.
U.K. researchers studied 408,802 participants ages 37 to 73 and those with the healthiest sleep pattern had 42% less risk of heart failure overall. Heart failure risks decreased in early risers by 8%, seven- to eight-hour sleepers by 12%, infrequent insomniacs by 17% and infrequent nappers by 34%.[i]
In another meta-analysis of 474,684 patients, sleeping fewer than six hours or more than eight hours was tied to higher risk of developing or dying from coronary heart disease and stroke but those who slept more than eight hours also had higher total cardiovascular disease risks.[ii]
Napping once or twice a week actually helped reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 48% in a sample of 3,462 Swiss subjects, but the benefits decreased with frequent naps.[iii] Meta-analysis of 313,651 participants reported that people who took naps of more than an hour had a 30% greater risk of all-cause death and 34% higher likelihood of cardiovascular disease compared to those who took no naps.[iv]
Benefits of Sleep
A good night’s rest is an elusive goal for many, but people live the longest when they sleep seven to eight hours a night.[vi] Sleep is restorative and necessary for your body’s functional processes.[vii]
Maintaining good sleep quality, at least in young adulthood and middle age, promotes better cognitive functioning and serves to protect against age-related cognitive declines.[viii],[ix],[x] Sleep, long overlooked, is now recognized as the “third pillar” of good health after nutrition and exercise.[xi]
Poor Sleep Impacts
Sleep disturbances have been associated with metabolic, psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Sleep apnea,[xii] insomnia, dementia and restless leg syndrome often disrupt sleep. Poor sleep exacerbates obesity,[xiii] diabetes, inflammation,[xiv] depression, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.[xv]
In a longitudinal study of 8,992 people between the ages of 32 and 86 years, scientists found that sleeping five or fewer hours was associated with diabetes risk and that obesity and high blood pressure both acted as mediators of this relationship.[xvi]
In a study of 1,666 men and 2,329 women 20 years or older, women with both short — less than five hours — and long sleep of eight or more hours had poorer lipid profiles whereas only men who were long sleepers had a cholesterol imbalance.[xvii] Over an hour of daytime napping was associated with greater risk of all-cause mortality compared with non-nappers in a review of seven studies involving 98,163 Chinese participants.[xviii]
Sleep also impacts your job, life and health. In a study of 11,698 workers, those experiencing sleep disturbances had more absenteeism, lower work performance ratings and higher health care costs.[xix] Lack of sleep decreases attention and memory, heightens negative emotions and impairs learning.[xx]
Seven Tips for Healthier Sleep
In a study of 36 participants with average age of 32, those using acupressure increased sleep quality scores by 26%.[xxi] Both sleep quality and quality of life were improved with acupressure in research of 62 nursing home residents.[xxii] In a comprehensive review, acupressure significantly enhanced sleep quality.[xxiii]
In a meta-analysis of 12 studies, aromatherapy effectively improved sleep quality.[xxiv] Lavender oil helped with insomnia and sleep quality.[xxv] Lavender aromatherapy increased sleep quality and quality of life in a study of 57 sleep-deprived menopausal women.[xxvi] In a trial of 15 healthy Japanese students, lavender produced less sleepiness upon awakening compared to no lavender.[xxvii]
Three groups of 120 cancer patients received lavender, peppermint or a placebo and the essential oil groups had higher sleep quality scores than the control group.[xxviii] Chamomile treatment significantly improved sleep quality and general anxiety disorders.[xxix]
Taking melatonin lowered the time to fall asleep and increased total sleep time in an analysis of 205 patients, and is recommended for secondary sleep disorders caused by depression, thyroid problems, stroke, arthritis or asthma.[xxx] Meta-analysis of five trials of 91 adults and four trials of 226 children showed that melatonin treatment improved the body’s ability to realign the sleep-wake rhythms and decreased time to fall asleep.[xxxi]
Nineteen studies of 1,832 participants were meta-analyzed, showing yoga significantly improved sleep overall.[xxxii] In a study of 413 non-exercises or non-meditators, exercise significantly improved sleep quality and meditation decreased daytime sleepiness.[xxxiii] In 43 adults ages 56 to 73 with moderate sleep complaints, moderate exercise increased quality of sleep scores.[xxxiv] Tai chi also improved sleep quality.[xxxv],[xxxvi]
5. Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil
In four Parkinson’s patients with sleep disorders, CBD oil significantly improved sleep quality.[xxxvii] The CBD group experienced less pain and better sleep outcomes in a study of 63 multiple sclerosis patients.[xxxviii] In a comprehensive analysis of cannabinoids, positive results for inflammation, pain, sleep disorders and neurological and psychiatric illness were reported.[xxxix]
Relaxation produced improvements in sleep quality ratings as well as 20- to 30-minute improvements in self-reported sleep onset latency, wake time after sleep onset and total sleep time.[xl] Mindfulness meditation effectively reduced insomnia.[xli]
7. Eliminate Blue Light
In a study of 22 participants, use of blue light smartphone devices two hours before bedtime significantly decreased sleepiness and performance. Blue light use increased the time to reach melatonin onset by 50%, which negatively impacted overall sleep quality.[xlii] Smartphone exposure may cause sleep disorders, headaches and heart rate variability.[xliii],[xliv]
In a study of 28 people, those with sleep issues had late circadian rhythms, slow build-ups of sleep need and increased circadian sensitivity to blue light.[xlv] In a study of 30 healthy young participants, two hours of intense evening blue light at 6500K hurt sleep regulation and quality.[xlvi]
Sleep quality is essential for your health and natural treatments such as acupressure, melatonin, meditation, aromatherapy and limiting blue light before bedtime can help. Please see GreenMedInfo.com’s research on sleep disorders for more information.
[i] Xiang Li, Qiaochu Xue, Mengying Wang, Tao Zhou, Hao Ma, Yoriko Heianza, and Lu Qi. Adherence to a Healthy Sleep Pattern and Incident Heart Failure: A Prospective Study of 408802 UK Biobank Participants. Circulation, American Heart Association, https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.050792, PMID: 33190528
[ii] Francesco P. Cappuccio, Daniel Cooper, Lanfranco D’Elia, Pasquale Strazzullo, Michelle A. Miller, Sleep duration predicts cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies, European Heart Journal, 32, 12, June 2011: 1484–1492, doi. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehr007
[iii] Häusler N, Haba-Rubio J, Heinzer R, & Marques-Vidal, P. Association of napping with incident cardiovascular events in a prospective cohort study. Heart 2019; 105:1793-1798.
[iv] Zhe Pan. Long naps may be bad for health. Presentation at the European Society of Cardiology. (2020, August 26). Reported in ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 15, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200826083021.htm
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[vi] Kirsten Weir (2017. The power of restorative sleep: New research uncovers the connections between sleeping well and staying healthy as we age. Monitor on Psychology, October, 48(9), 38.
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[ix] Mander Bryce A. Local Sleep and Alzheimer’s Disease Pathophysiology. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2020, 14: 1008. doi. 10.3389/fnins.2020.525970
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[xx] Krause AJ, Simon EB, Mander BA, Greer SM, Saletin JM, Goldstein-Piekarski AN, Walker MP. The sleep-deprived human brain. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2017 Jul;18(7):404-418. doi: 10.1038/nrn.2017.55. Epub 2017 May 18. PMID: 28515433; PMCID: PMC6143346.
[xxi] Ke-Hsin Chueh, Chia-Chuan Chang, Mei-Ling Yeh. Effects of Auricular Acupressure on Sleep Quality, Anxiety, and Depressed Mood in RN-BSN Students With Sleep Disturbance. J Nurs Res. 2018 Feb ;26(1):10-17. PMID: 29315203
[xxii] Fu-Chih Lai, I-Hui Chen, Pao-Ju Chen, I-Ju Chen, Hui-Wen Chien, Chih-Fen Yuan. Acupressure, Sleep, and Quality of Life in Institutionalized Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Feb 2. Epub 2017 Feb 2. PMID: 28152177
[xxiii] Nant Thin Hmwe, Pathmawathi Subramaniam, Li Ping Tan. Effectiveness of Acupressure in Promoting Sleep Quality: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Holist Nurs Pract. 2016 Sep-Oct;30(5):283-93. PMID: 27501211
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[xxvi] Gürler M, Kızılırmak A, Baser M. The Effect of Aromatherapy on Sleep and Quality of Life in Menopausal Women with Sleeping Problems: A Non-Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Complement Med Res. 2020;27(6):421-430. English. doi: 10.1159/000507751. Epub 2020 Jun 9. PMID: 32516765.
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[xxviii] Hamzeh S, Safari-Faramani R, Khatony A. Effects of Aromatherapy with Lavender and Peppermint Essential Oils on the Sleep Quality of Cancer Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020 Mar 25;2020:7480204. doi: 10.1155/2020/7480204. PMID: 32308715; PMCID: PMC7132346.
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Dr. Diane Fulton is Emeritus Professor at Clayton State University. She holds Ph.D./MBA in Business (University of Tennessee – Knoxville) and B.S. with Math/Secondary Education majors (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee). During her 45-year career as administrator/professor teaching research and business, she authored 10 books, over 50 articles, and is now writing children’s books about the body, mindfulness and cross-cultural awareness. Her passion is to share her knowledge to integrate a healthy body, mind and soul. To reach her: Clayton University’s Emeritus Professors Diane Fulton LINKED IN or Diane Fulton FACEBOOK.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.
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