A major study (17 years, 10,000 participants) finds that a busy lifestyle in which sleep is sacrificed is directly linked to increased disease risk across the board but especially heart disease, even when accounting for other risk factors such as smoking and obesity. Perhaps most astounding – to me, anyway – is that fully 40% of Americans get less than five hours of sleep, on average, per night. Between work and the kids, my wife and I don’t always get the luxury of 7 or 8 hours, and I know it’s the same for many of you.
For decades, 8 hours was the standard recommendation from health experts, but it now appears that 7 is a healthy amount of sleep provided that the sleep is quality and this is a consistent pattern. A lot of us get by with 6, but the fact that a significant portion of Americans make due with fewer than 5 hours is incredible. In economic terms we have a multitude of considerations: soaring health care costs, reduced labor productivity, increased numbers of auto collisions. In social terms, this surely can’t be good for relationships and quality of life, though understandably that’s a tough one to quantify. In public health terms, however, the costs are shockingly severe. Heart disease is our number one killer. We tend to focus on diet and obesity as the major factors in CHD, but this study confirms that lack of adequate sleep – and I think we can reasonably include stress in this issue – has an enormous effect on your cardiovascular health by doubling the risk of heart disease.
Let me know your thoughts. How much sleep do you get on average? What are possible solutions? Do we need a shorter work day?
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HT: Mike via Sara
Flickr Photo (CC)
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