Getting at least seven hours of sleep a night further lowers the risk of CVD (cardiovascular disease) events—on top of the lowered risk from following four traditional healthy habits.
The Monitoring Project on Risk Factors for Chronic Diseases (MORGEN) study looked at how adequate sleep might enhance the benefits of being physically active, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and drinking alcohol in moderation. (published in the July 2, 2013 issue of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology).
In the current study, researchers analyzed data from 6672 men and 7967 women who participated in MORGEN, a prospective study of people aged 20-65 years living in the Netherlands who replied to a lifestyle questionnaire in 1994 to 1997.
Researchers defined five healthy lifestyle habits, as follows:
Spending 3.5 or more hours a week cycling or doing other sports at a moderate to vigorous intensity.
A modified Mediterranean diet score of five or higher.
One drink of alcohol or more a month.
Sleeping seven hours or more a night.
The population was fairly healthy: 52% were sufficiently active, 37% consumed a healthy diet, 91% of men and 78% of women consumed alcohol, 65% were nonsmokers, and 80% of men and 86% of women obtained sufficient sleep.
During the 10-14 year follow-up, there were 607 composite CVD events: 129 fatal CVD events, 367 nonfatal heart attacks, and 111 nonfatal strokes.
Each factor on its own reduced the risk of CVD. The reduced risk for composite CVD ranged from 12% lower for following a healthy diet to 43% lower for not smoking; the risk of fatal CVD ranged from 26% lower for being physically active to 43% lower for not smoking. Getting a good night’s sleep reduced the risk of composite CVD by 22% (HR 0.78) and fatal CVD by 43% (HR 0.57) compared with having insufficient sleep.
Not surprisingly, compared to people with fewer than two traditional healthy lifestyle habits, those who adhered to four traditional habits had a 57% lower risk of composite CVD and 67% lower risk of fatal CVD. People who added sufficient sleep to these four habits had an even greater benefit: a 65% lower risk of a composite CVD event and an 83% lower risk of fatal CVD.
So, Get healthy and catch a good nights sleep!