According to a study, if everyone just got a decent night’s sleep, seven out of ten heart attacks and strokes could be prevented.
Researchers tracked more than 7,000 healthy people over the age of 50 for over a decade and found that only one in ten sleeps well on a regular basis.
Compared with the worst sleepers, those who were well rested saw their risk of heart disease or stroke drop by 75 percent.
Scientists estimate that if all adults got a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, the number of heart attacks and strokes would drop by 72 percent.
Researchers said that a “24/7 modern life” with many people glued to smartphones and struggling to settle down in the evenings means that a good night’s sleep has become increasingly rare.
The results suggest that lives could be saved simply by improving sleep habits.
At the European Society of Cardiology Annual Meeting in Barcelona, Dr. Aboubakari Nambiema, senior scientist at France’s National Institute for Health and Medical Research, that reducing stress is key to improving sleep quality.
“The vast majority of people have trouble sleeping,” he said. “Given that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, greater awareness of the importance of good sleep in maintaining a healthy heart is needed.”
French researchers rated volunteers out of five for five important sleep habits, with zero being the lowest grade.
Optimal scores were achieved by getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, never or rarely having insomnia, no daytime sleepiness or sleep apnea, and being a morning person.
After eight years of follow-up, 274 of the 7,203 participants had suffered a heart attack or stroke.
The study found that the risk dropped by 22 percent with every single increase in sleep score.
About 7 percent of the volunteers had the lowest grade of zero or one, while the majority scored either a three or four.
Researchers said the stark differences show there is a need to educate the public about the importance of a good night’s sleep.
dr Nambiema said: “The low prevalence of good sleepers was to be expected given our busy 24/7 lives. The importance of sleep quality and quantity to heart health should be taught early in life when healthy behaviors are established.
“Minimizing noise at night and stress at work can both help improve sleep.”
Prof Russell Foster of Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute said lack of sleep puts abnormal stress on the body and increases a variety of heart risks.
“The mechanism, I believe, is abnormal activation of the stress response as a result of the need to overcome sleep deprivation,” he said.
“What we do know is that you have elevated blood pressure, altered immune responses, inflammation and all sorts of physiologies that can lead to a higher risk of stroke and heart attack in the long term.”
Prof Foster said fatigue during the day, the need for coffee to stay awake and struggle to get out of bed are signs of not being well rested and he urged people to prioritize sleep to grant
“We can defend our sleep and we can mitigate some of the consequences of poor sleep,” he said.
“If you’re the kind of person who needs eight or nine hours, go to bed earlier so you’ll have enough sleep when you wake up in the morning. We are in control there.”
The study enrolled men and women between the ages of 50 and 75 who did not have heart disease when the study began in 2008.
Telegraph Media Group Limited 
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/getting-a-good-nights-sleep-could-help-prevent-most-heart-attacks-41940698.html A good night’s sleep could help prevent most heart attacks