In a new study, researchers found people with irregular sleep patterns had higher risks for stroke, heart disease, and heart failure.
Previous studies have shown that lack of sleep and poor sleep quality could harm the heart.
However, it is unknown whether other factors, such as sleep regularity, can influence hear healthy, too.
In the current study, the team examined about 2,000 people without heart disease and stroke at the start of the study.
They focused on how much night-to-night difference a person had in sleep duration and what time the person fell asleep every night.
Participants wore sleep-monitoring wrist devices for 7-day periods from 2010 to 2013 and were followed for 4 years.
The researchers found during the 4 years, 95 people had a stroke, heart failure or heart disease.
Moreover, people with irregular sleep had a much higher risk of a cardiovascular event.
For example, people whose night-to-night sleep length varied by more than two hours during a seven-day period were 2.2 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
In addition, the time people fell asleep each night is very important.
People whose bedtime varied more than 90 minutes every week had double the risk of a heart attack or stroke compared with people with a bedtime that varied by only 30 minutes.
The researchers also found that using digital devices before bed could worsen sleep quality and regularity. The light from smartphones, tablets and other glowing screens made it harder to sleep.
The findings suggest that sleep on time every day is important to maintain heart health.
The researchers believe their findings help to understand the link between sleep regularity and heart disease.
The results have important public health implications and may help develop a method to prevent heart disease.
Future research is needed to examine how irregular sleep is related to specific heart disease outcomes.
For people with a high risk of heart disease and stroke, it is important to have a good sleep habit and regularity. They should reduce their use of mobile devices or TV viewing before sleep.
The lead author of the study is Tianyi Huang, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions in Houston.
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