Increased risk of heart attack due to too much and too little sleep

How does sleep affect the risk of heart attack?

Too little sleep increases the risk of having a heart attack. However, if we sleep too long, this also increases the risk of heart attack. How many hours of sleep a night are actually healthy?

The current study by the University of Colorado at Boulder found that not only too little sleep has unhealthy effects on the human body, too much sleep can have life-threatening consequences. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Journal of the American College of Cardiology".

How much sleep is optimal?

Because of the negative effects of too little and too much sleep on health, the question naturally arises: how long should a person sleep each night? The study found that it is healthiest for a person to sleep six to nine hours a night.

Data from over 461,000 people were evaluated

For the study, genetic information, self-reported sleeping habits and medical records from over 461,000 people were analyzed. The participants were between the ages of 40 and 69 and had never had a heart attack before. All people were medically monitored for a period of seven years.

How much does the risk of a heart attack increase?

In the study, the researchers found that participants who slept less than six hours were 20 percent more likely to have a heart attack during the study period. In addition, it turned out that sleeping for more than nine hours is associated with a 34 percent increased risk of a heart attack. The more the participants fell out of the time frame of six to nine hours, the higher their risk of having a heart attack, the research group reports.

Sleep duration is a key factor in heart health

When the team examined participants with a genetic predisposition to heart disease, they found that those who slept between six and nine hours reduced their risk of a heart attack by 18 percent. This is strong evidence that sleep duration is a key factor in heart health that applies to all people, the researchers explain.

Heart attack risk can be reduced by various approaches

Various studies have already shown that there is a connection between sleep and heart health. However, since there are a variety of factors that could play a role here, it is unclear whether poor sleep causes heart problems or vice versa. In the current study, different examination methods were combined and a variety of factors were taken into account, such as body composition and physical activity. It was found that the length of sleep affects the risk of heart attack regardless of the other factors. Regardless of how high the personal innate risk of a heart attack is, it can be reduced through healthy sleeping habits, as well as through healthy eating, no smoking and other lifestyle approaches, the researchers report. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Iyas Daghlas, Hassan S. Dashti, Jacqueline Lane, Krishna G. Aragam, Martin K. Rutter, Richa Saxena, CĂ©line Vetter: Sleep Duration and Myocardial Infarction, in Journal of the American College of Cardiology (query: 03.09.2019), JACC

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