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Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for approximately 20 million global deaths, and around 690 000 deaths in the United States in 2021. With the cardiovascular disease burden on a continuous rise, it’s vital to identify modifiable risk factors to prevent the disease. As such, current research has indicated that getting quality sleep may serve to improve heart health.

Sleep and Cardiovascular Health: What’s The Link?

As we age, sleep patterns and habits are subject to change. Now, with sleep being a vital component of longevity, one has to wonder how these changes may impact health. With this in mind, a group of researchers from China set out to investigate how changing sleep patterns may influence the risk for cardiovascular disease, which caused over 4 million deaths in the nation in 2020.

To investigate, they analyzed data collected between 2008 and 2018, courtesy of the Dongfeng-Tongji cohort, an ongoing, prospective study in Shiyan, China. The data featured 15,306 participants, with an average age of 66 years, and their sleep information. This included bedtime, sleep duration, sleep quality, and midday napping. Based on this information, participants were categorized into four groups based on their sleep patterns: persistent unfavorable, favorable-unfavorable, unfavorable, and persistent favorable.

Favorable sleep patterns, which were based on four factors – bedtime between 10 pm and midnight, sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night, good or fair sleep quality, and napping 60 minutes or less during the day – featured 26% of participants. 36% of participants had unfavorable sleep patterns.

Medical News Today noted that 3,669 participants had documented cases of cardiovascular disease during that period, including 2,986 cases of coronary heart disease and 683 cases of stroke over a mean follow-up period of nearly 5 years.

MNT also revealed that participants with no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer had their risks assessed for each condition from 2013 to 2018. The scientists later performed their statistical analysis in November 2023.

Quality rest reduces heart disease risk

According to the study’s findings, published in JAMA Network Open journal, individuals with healthy sleep habits faced a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke during the follow-up period, regardless of their genetic risk.

As a side note, it is recommended to get first aid training, like a CPR course Edmonton, to know how to help a victim of a heart stroke.

To be more specific, participants with persistent favorable sleep patterns enjoyed 16% and 34% reduced risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Those with persistent sleep patterns and a low genetic risk had a 35% reduced risk of coronary heart disease and a 52% lower risk of stroke compared to those with persistently poor sleep patterns and higher genetic risk.

Additionally, participants with persistent favorable sleep patterns and an intermediate genetic risk faced a 36% reduced risk of stroke, whereas those who also had persistent favorable sleep patterns, yet a high genetic risk faced a 45% reduced risk of stroke.

“Even with the presence of genetic factors associated with cardiovascular disease, good sleep quality decreased people’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” said Cheng-Han Chen, MD, to Healthline. Chen is an interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, Calif.

Should we sleep more for a healthier heart?

Despite the study’s findings on the link between sleep quality and cardiovascular health, it does have its limitations. For one, all the participants were older adults from China, which suggests that the results may not apply to a different demographic.

Speaking to Healthline, Chen added that the study was observational, so it did not show cause and effect,

“It could be that there are other factors, such as depression or stress, that cause both poor sleep quality and cardiovascular disease,” he said.

Lastly, sleep disorders affect 50-70 million people worldwide, and this is an aspect that the study did not consider,

“Specifically, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” explained Chen.

Despite the study’s limitations, The American Heart Association does include quality sleep as one of its eight essential habits for improved heart health and longevity.

“Whenever I talk to my patients about cardiovascular health and improving their cardiovascular risk factors, I always mention sleep quality and the idea of getting good sleep, as well as asking if they’ve been checked for sleep apnea.”Cheng-Han Chen, MD,

To boost your heart health by improving your sleep habits, Dr. Yashica Khalawan, a South African-based general practitioner, suggests the following:

  • Eat dinner 3 hours before bedtime.
  • 1 hour before bedtime, switch off all devices. Limit liquid intake to avoid bathroom trips.
  • Listen to relaxing music and take a warm bath/shower. The cooling of body temperature helps signal sleep.
  • Create an environment that supports sleep:
    • Room temp 68 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 20 °C)
    • Darken the room
    • Sound machine to block out outside noise
  • Invest in a quality mattress and pillow that supports the alignment of the spine
  • During the night, avoid checking the time, as this increases sleep anxiety.

Want to know more?

Poor sleep habits aren’t the only thing risking your heart’s health. Vaping has often been recommended to individuals as a “healthier” alternative to smoking and may assist people in their journey to quit smoking. However, new research has indicated that vaping raises the risk of heart failure.


Diao, T., Liu, K., Lyu, J., et al. (2024). Changes in Sleep Patterns, Genetic Susceptibility, and Incident Cardiovascular Disease in China. JAMA Network Opendoi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.7974

MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Kampus Production/Pexels


Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a journalist graduate and writer, specializing in health, beauty, and wellness. She also has a passion for poetry, equality, and natural hair. Identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to provide the latest information on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle and leave a more equitable society behind.


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