Sadly, almost 380,000 people are likely to die this year due to heart failure. And while numerous factors can raise your risk of becoming one of those statistics — like high blood pressure, heart attack and even diabetes that damages your blood vessels — there’s an easily modifiable risk factor that might surprise you… your sleep pattern.
More and more research is linking unhealthy or poor-quality sleep to your chances of ending up with heart failure.
And a brand-new study has just come to a ground-breaking conclusion.
Simply improving your sleep could lower your risk of heart failure by a whopping 42%.
5 factors that determine your sleep score
The research, published in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation, set out to follow over 408,000 participants in the UK for an average of 10 years.
The researchers delved into each participant’s sleep quality as well as overall sleep patterns, which they used to give each person an overall “Sleep Score.” They then compared this score and individual sleep issues to whether or not that person developed heart failure during the follow-up period.
Sleep behaviors scored included:
- Sleep duration (how long they slept each night)
- Other sleep-related features, such as whether the participant was an early bird or night owl
- The presence of daytime sleepiness (being likely to unintentionally doze off or fall asleep during the daytime).
And here’s what they found…
After adjusting for diabetes, hypertension, medication use, genetic variations and other factors that could skew results, the researchers determined that participants with the healthiest sleep pattern had an amazing 42 percent reduction in the risk of heart failure compared to people with an unhealthy sleep pattern.
That’s right — a 42 percent lower risk of heart failure just by sleeping more and better, which is something we all would love to do anyway.
After breaking down their findings, the team was also able to determine that heart failure risk was:
- 8 percent lower in early risers
- 12 percent lower in those who slept 7 to 8 hours daily
- 17 percent lower in those who did not have frequent insomnia
- 34 percent lower in those reporting no daytime sleepiness
This means that even if you can’t improve all of your sleep issues, improving even a single one can substantially reduce your risk of suffering from heart failure.
How to improve sleep patterns
So, what’s the secret to sleep better each night? Here’s what the Mayo Clinic has to say:
#1 — Schedule your sleep
To improve your sleep, you should set a sleep schedule and stick to it. This means going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Plan on setting aside eight hours each day for sleep.
And if you have a hard time falling asleep, don’t stay in bed tossing and turning. Get up, do something else and then return to bed when you’re tired.
#2 — Watch your diet and eating patterns
Banish sleep disruptors like nicotine, caffeine and alcohol before bed. And avoid going to bed hungry or eating too large or heavy of a meal before bed.
#3 — Create your sleep space
You’ll get the best sleep in a cool, dark room. Additionally, avoiding light-emitting screens and devices before bedtime can help, as well as earplugs, room-darkening shades or even a fan.
If sleep is still a struggle, try doing something relaxing before you turn in, like taking a soothing bath or meditating.
#4 — Limit naptime
If you’re a daytime napper, be sure to limit your rest to 30 minutes early in the day to avoid interfering with your sleep.
#5 — Stay active
Getting plenty of regular physical activity can also improve your sleep. However, it’s important to limit high-intensity activity close to bedtime.
#6 — Calm your stress
Stress management is a big part of boosting your sleep score. To better manage your worries or a racing mind, write down anything that’s keeping you up so that you can work on it tomorrow.
If we’ve learned anything from this latest study, it’s that sleep and your heart health go hand-in-hand. So take steps now to rest better each night and improve your sleep score to lower your risk of heart failure.
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Heart Failure — CDC
Heart Failure — Mayo Clinic
Healthy sleep habits help lower risk of heart failure — ScienceDaily