Sleep duration is correlated with risk of developing coronary artery disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
To reach this conclusion, Diane Lauderdale and colleagues at the University of Chicago implemented a prospective, observational study of 495 participants between the ages of 35 and 47 that had no coronary artery calcifications as determined by computed tomography.
Overall 12.1% of study participants developed coronary artery calcifications during the 5-year study.
That number was 27% for those getting less than 5 hours of sleep per night and only 6% in those who slept 7 hours or more per night.
Thus each extra hour of rack time was associated with a 33% decline in the risk of developing coronary artery calcifications.
The findings were present in both sexes and not impacted by race or the presence of other cardiovascular risk factors.
Lauderdale told MedpageToday that “the magnitude of the observed effect was similar to sizable differences in established coronary risk factors.”
“It’s important to say that…this does not yet prove the association is causal,” Lauderdale told the New York Times. “Until we know what the mechanism is — that it’s really a direct or a causal relationship — there is no point in making recommendations based on this.”
Sanjay Patel, a sleep expert at Case Western Reserve University echoed this conclusion. “It’s possible,” he told the Times, “that people who are under more stress may be both sleeping less and at higher risk of heart disease.”
“If we got those people to sleep more but they still were under a lot of stress, it wouldn’t change their risk of heart disease,” he added.