Getting Too Little Sleep May ‘Age’ the Heart

Getting Too Little Sleep May ‘Age’ the Heart

Some life coaches will preach to strive for balance in all things. Medical researchers investigating sleep might agree. New study data shows that both a deficit or excess of sleep can increase your risk of serious cardiovascular danger. While it’s not entirely uncommon for people to be aware of how getting too little sleep can be dangerous, it’s a little more novel to think of how too much sleep could also carry medical risks.

The researchers looked at 12,755 adults in the United States between the ages of 30 and 74 years old with no history of heart disease or stroke for their study. They calculated the optimal level of sleep to be seven hours, based on medical risk. Those study participants who slept less were progressively more at risk than those who slept enough every night. The issue comes from how lack of sleep affects the body, particularly the heart.

US Adults Heart Age based on sleep:

  • 7 hours of sleep per night                        3.7 years above chronological age
  • 6-8 hours of sleep per night                     4.5 years above chronological age
  • 5 or fewer hours of sleep per night          5.1 years above chronological age

Cardiovascular scientists use the term ‘heart age’ to describe how a person’s cardiovascular ‘age’ can differ from their chronological age. When a person’s heart has been subjected to risk factors or been required to endure excessive stress or physical load, this can increase the heart age the way hard driving can put added damage and deterioration on a car that drives ‘hard’ miles. When heart age is significantly above chronological age, this is indicative of someone who is at a higher risk for cardiovascular problems compared to others of their same chronological age.

Key Points:

  • 1Adults who sleep too little or too much may have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • 27 hours of sleep per night is the sweet spot for heart health.
  • 3Studies have shown significant relationships between sleep duration and heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.


Prolonged periods of insufficient sleep have negative effects on multiple body systems including the cardiovascular system
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