I’m always urging you to give sleep the same priority as diet and exercise. Because when it comes down to it, nothing you’re doing to stay healthy is going to matter if you’re not getting the right amount of sleep.
So, what exactly is the “right” amount of sleep?
Well, as with most things, there’s some wiggle room on the answer. But the results of a brand-new study offer a critical reminder that more isn’t always better. In fact, it could be deadly.
The “Goldilocks” effect
For this analysis, researchers looked at sleep habits, genetic information, and medical records from nearly half a million participants of the U.K. biobank. All were between the ages of 40 and 69, and none had a history of heart attack.
After following subjects for seven years, the scientists unearthed a powerful association: People who slept fewer than six hours a night were 20 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack. Meanwhile, people who slept more than nine hours a night were 34 percent more likely.
And the further outside this range subjects slept, in either direction, the stronger the association. Those who clocked five hours per night, for example, faced a 52 percent higher risk of heart attack than those who slept between seven and eight hours. Worse yet, risk doubled among subjects who slept ten hours a night.
Sleep had an equally powerful influence on cardiovascular outcomes in patients genetically predisposed toward heart disease. When these subjects kept their sleep times between six and nine hours per night, their risk of heart attack dropped by 18 percent.
What’s more, the association between sleep duration and heart attack risk appears to be independent of any other factor—from body composition, to smoking and exercise habits, to mental health status.
In fact, genetic analysis showed that subjects who were predisposed to shorter sleep durations (there are nearly 30 genetic variants linked with this tendency) were also more likely to suffer heart attacks.
All of which suggests that sleep itself—and not any other related factor—is the primary driving factor behind this potentially deadly connection.
A cornerstone of lasting health
This research appeared recently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. And it’s proof positive that, like I’m always telling you, you can overcome your “bad” genes.
By eating right. By exercising. By not smoking. And yes, by sleeping well at night, for an appropriate amount of time—that is, not too much, and not too little.
This particular study didn’t explore “how” to stick to a healthy nighttime routine. But it’s clear that getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for everyone—whether you’re trying to ward off a heart attack, prevent Alzheimer’s, drop a few pounds, or dodge the flu.
And just because this recommendation is simple, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. If everyone was able to go to sleep and wake up without a hitch, we wouldn’t even need to have this conversation.
In fact, sleep problems can become as common as senior discounts as you age.
That’s why I developed my Perfect Sleep Protocol—which covers lifestyle interventions as well as all of the side-effect-free nutritional supplements that are guaranteed to help you to fall (and stay) asleep naturally.
“Sleeping too much — or too little — boosts heart attack risk.” Science Daily, 09/02/2019. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190902142015.htm)