New research conducted in Europe shows that poor sleepers run as big of a risk for a stroke or heart attack as those who smoke or those who fail to exercise.
The study, conducted by the World Health Organization, looked into the causes of cardiovascular disease. The study involved 657 men aged 25 to 64 with no history of heart attack, stroke or diabetes. The subjects were surveyed in 1994 on their sleep habits. They were then assessed for heart attacks and strokes over the next 14 years.
The findings were startling. Nearly two-thirds who had a heart attack also had a sleeping disorder. Men with a sleeping disorder had a risk of a heart attack that was 2 to 2.6 times higher and a stroke risk that was 1.5 to 4 times higher than those without a sleeping disorder.
Sleeping disorders are closely associated with anxiety, depression, hostility, exhaustion and social stress.
“For most people, good quality sleep is 7 to 8 hours of rest each night,” said the lead researcher. “People who are not sleeping well should speak to their doctor. Our previous research showed that sleeping disorders are very closely connected with depression, anxiety and hostility, so speaking with a psychologist may also help.”