New research explores multidimensional aspects of sleep health and heart disease

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A new study has found the more issues an individual has with sleep, the greater the risk of heart disease.

The research, conducted by the University of South Florida, was published in the journalScientific Reports. Researchers reviewed the sleep data of 6,820 middle-aged adults in the United States, who described their sleep characteristics and heart disease history. Among those participants, 633 also wore a research device around their wrist.

Rather than focus on one aspect of sleep health, the study focused on multidimensional aspects of sleep, such as regularity, satisfaction, alertness during waking hours, timing of sleep, sleep efficiency, and sleep duration. These aspects were then correlated to physician-diagnosed heart disease.

Researchers concluded that for every additional sleep issue an individual may experience, there was a 54 percent increased risk of heart disease. This risk factor was much higher for those who provided both self-reported sleep data and information from the research device. Those participants were found to have a 141 percent increased risk of heart disease.

The study found that there were significant differences in sleep health and heart disease by sex and race. Women had slightly more sleep health problems compared to men, according to the participant group who had only provided self-reported information. No difference between the sexes was found in the group who were wearing the tracking device and self-documenting. However, men were more likely to have heart disease compared to women.

In addition, non-Hispanic Black individuals had the highest number of sleep health problems, according to the study, followed by all other ethnic groups, and then non-Hispanic white individuals. This was observed in both the group that self-reported and those who were wearing the device and self-reporting. Race was significantly associated with heart disease, only in the device wearing/self-reporting group.

While sleep is critical for any healthy lifestyle wellness plan, integrative practitioners can continue to work with their patients on developing better sleep hygiene, especially when more than one sleep issue is present, to mitigate against risk of heart disease.