25.09.2022

Getting enough sleep is now officially a marker of good heart health

It’s long been said that getting a good night’s sleep will help you live longer — and now it’s officially been signed off as a key marker of good health.

A leading panel of cardiologists have added sleep duration to their list of ‘essential’ steps to maintain a healthy heart.

The American Heart Association states the ideal amount is between seven and nine hours kip each night.

The American Heart Association has added getting seven-to-nine hours of sleep a night to its list of tips for good heart health

In 2010, the AHA published a list of seven tips for good cardiovascular health called ‘Life’s Simple 7’.

It included factors like a healthy diet, regular exercise and quitting smoking,

While the list has been refined and added to over the years, today’s addition of sleep is the first time a new tip has been added.

AHA president Dr Donald Lloyd-Jones said the move reflected latest research about risk factors for heart disease.

‘Sleep impacts overall health,’ he said.

‘People who have healthier sleep patterns manage health factors such as weight, blood pressure or risk for type 2 diabetes more effectively.’

He added that new technology allowing people to track their sleep at home also meant they could now be told what to aim for to improve their heart health.

‘Advances in ways to measure sleep, such as with wearable devices, now offer people the ability to reliably and routinely monitor their sleep habits at home,’ he said.

The AHA, a charity, recommends adults get between seven-to-nine hours of sleep per night.

Children are advised to get even more, with under-5s recommended between ten and sixteen hours, including naps.

People who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk of developing heart disease as well as high blood pressure and obesity, the AHA said.

It recommends ensuring devices like phones are set to dim mode to ensure the brightness doesn’t mess with your body clock and ensure notifications are turned off so they don’t interrupt your sleep.

Heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the UK, about 160,000 a year, equivalent to one fatality every three minutes.

In the US heart disease is the leading cause for Americans — killing 659,000 people each year, roughly one every 36 seconds.

Some of the other seven AHA tips have also been updated, these include advising a reduction in exposure to second-hand-smoke and incorporating the latest measurement guides for blood pressure and blood sugar.

What are the eight essential components for good heart health?

1. Diet

People should try to eat more whole foods, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds. They should avoid trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils found in some baked goods and fried food.

2. Physical Activity

Adults should get two-and-half hours of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Children should do 60 minutes of active play per day.

3. Quit smoking

The AHA recommends quitting all forms of smoking and vaping to improve heart health.

4. Sleep Duration

Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  Children require more: 10-16 hours for ages five and younger, including naps; 9-12 hours for ages 6-12; and 8-10 hours for ages 13-18.  Adequate sleep promotes healing, improves brain function and reduces the risk for chronic diseases.

5. Weight

People should try and maintain a healthy weight with the AHA saying an optimal body-mass-index is 25.

6. Cholesterol

High levels of non-HDL, or ‘bad,’ cholesterol can lead to heart disease.  The AHA advises keeping track of cholesterol via health checks ups and proactively keeping levels down a good diet and exercise.

7. Blood Sugar

Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use as energy.  But over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. Blood sugar can be monitored for those at risk and be kept down through diet and exercise.

8. Blood Pressure

Keeping your blood pressure within acceptable ranges can keep you healthier longer.  High levels can put aspects of the cardiovascular system like arteries and the heart under strain.  Levels less than 120/80 mm Hg are optimal.

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