It’s important to get enough sleep. Sleep is healing for your body, so more sleep must be better, right?
Not necessarily, according to a new review published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. In this study, people sleeping more than 10 hours were 30 % more likely to die and 50% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
A New Risk Factor
For this study, researchers looked at 74 previous sleep studies that included more than 3 million participants. They used this huge data set to explore the relationship between sleep duration and cardiovascular disease. They found that, although sleep duration hadn’t been considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, perhaps it should be.
The study found a strong relationship between many forms of abnormal sleep patterns and cardiovascular risk.
Perhaps the most striking finding is the link between long sleep and cardiovascular disease. Short sleep wasn’t linked to elevated risk. However, they noted that several other forms of abnormal sleep patterns were. For example, people with irregular sleep patterns had a 45% higher risk of cardiovascular disease. And, in fact, anyone who reported poor sleep quality was more likely to develop heart disease.
Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea Is Likely Cause
Why does long sleep have such an increase on cardiovascular risk? It’s likely that this is a sign of undiagnosed sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea get little rest during normal sleep, so they try to get the rest they need by sleeping longer. Many people with sleep apnea find they sleep for most of the day, especially on the weekends, when they are trying to “catch up” on lost sleep. This may also be a major factor in the link between irregular sleep and cardiovascular disease. Attempts to “catch up” on sleep are a sign of poor sleep quality.
Other undiagnosed conditions could also play a role here, such as depression, which can lead to irregular sleep or excessive sleepiness. However, sleep apnea is the most strongly linked to heart disease, and with as much as 80% of sufferers undiagnosed, it’s a likely condition.
Are You Having Trouble Sleeping?
If you find that you are having poor quality sleep, or that you’re constantly trying to catch up on sleep but never can, you might very well have obstructive sleep apnea. The odds are even higher if you’ve been told that you snore.
The good news is that sleep apnea treatment can improve your sleep quality and eliminate snoring. Not only that, but comfortable, convenient treatment is available. There’s no need for CPAP for most people.