The Sleep 'Sweet Spot' To Reduce Heart Problems

Researchers have discovered the optimal amount of Z's for our heart health.

Getting the right amount of sleep can be a matter of life or death when it comes to heart health.

In fact, getting more or less sleep than a sleep 'sweet spot' of between six to eight hours could increase our risk of heart attack or stroke, researchers have found.

The research, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich, warns against sleep deprivation and excessive sleep for optimum heart health.

Author of the study Dr Epameinondas Fountas of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre, Athens, Greece said that while the occasional night of excessive sleep or sleep deprivation wasn't detrimental, over the long-term it could be.

"Having the odd short night or lie-in is unlikely to be detrimental to health, but evidence is accumulating that prolonged nightly sleep deprivation or excessive sleeping should be avoided," he said.

Sleep deprivation or oversleeping can increase the likelihood of heart attack or stroke, researchers say.

"The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get into the habit of getting six to eight hours a night -- for example by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed, eating healthily, and being physically active. "

Data from more than one million adults across 11 studies was analysed as part of the research, with scientists finding those who slept longer or shorter than the 'sweet spot' of six to eight hours had 11% and 33% greater risks, respectively, of developing or dying from heart attack or stroke.

The reason for the link between heart health and sleep habits wasn't clear, Dr Fountas said, but most likely was a result of the link between sleep and various biological factors that influence heart health.

"Our findings suggest that too much or too little sleep may be bad for the heart. More research is needed to clarify exactly why, but we do know that sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation -- all of which have an impact on cardiovascular disease."

The findings come after research earlier this month found that those who sleep more than 10 hours are more likely to die prematurely.