Getting better overall sleep might be the key to your better health

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In a new study from Columbia University, researchers found improving your overall sleep health could help lower your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other cardiovascular threats.

Experts already knew a lack of sleep and having sleep disorders can put health at risk.

But the new study looked into whether the multiple factors that go into a good night’s sleep are collectively associated with health risks.

To measure overall sleep health, the researchers created a multi-dimensional score based on the average amount of sleep each night, the consistency of bedtime and wake-up times, and how long it takes to fall asleep.

They also factored in excessive daytime sleepiness and symptoms of sleep disorders such as snoring and difficulty breathing during sleep.

Then, they calculated an overall sleep health score of “poor,” “moderate” or “ideal” for 4,559 adults who took part in the 2017-18¬†National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The team found that compared to people with poor sleep scores, those with ideal sleep health had 66% lower odds of high blood pressure, 58% reduced odds of Type 2 diabetes, 73% lower odds of obesity, and 69% lower odds of central adiposity, or waist-line fat.

The team says sleep health is important because our sleep habits are not isolated, they’re interrelated. Sleep health as a whole may be stronger than the sum of its parts.

In addition to looking at overall sleep health, researchers zeroed in on the separate sleep factors.

For example, people who didn’t have trouble falling asleep and never or rarely snored or experienced daytime sleepiness had lower odds of high blood pressure (up to 46%), Type 2 diabetes (up to 51%), obesity (up to 58%) and waist-line fat (up to 54%) than those who did.

The study also found that compared with people who got too little or too much sleep, those who got the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep had a 29% lower chance of having high blood pressure.

The team says doctors need to be more vigilant about diagnosing and treating sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, and screening for sleep problems.

If you care about sleep, please read studies about medicinal cannabis could help people with insomnia sleep better and findings of long nap and sleep could mean higher stroke risk.

For more information about sleep and health, please see recent studies about this study shows the cause of sleep problems in autism and results showing that lack of sleep could lead to these chronic health problems.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s virtual Scientific Sessions. One author of the study is Dr. Nour Makarem.

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