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If you sleep too much, too little may increase your risk of heart attack



This is the Goldsmiths' principle: not too much, not too little

Lack of sleep can lead to health problems – this has been reviewed time and time again. But a new seven-year study by the University of Colorado Boulder of nearly half a million people has found that too much sleep can increase the risk of a heart attack.

A study published on Monday

by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology

found that the healthiest time a person should sleep is between six and nine hours.

For the study, senior author Celine Wind, an associate professor of integrative physiology at CU Boulder, and her co-authors at Massachusetts Hospital and University of Manchester analyzed genetic information, self-reported sleep habits and medical records of 461

,000 Biobank UK participants between 40 and 69 who have never had a heart attack. The study followed the participants for seven years.

Participants who sleep less than six hours are 20 percent more likely to have a heart attack during the study period, according to researchers. Those who sleep more than nine hours are 34 percent more likely. The more people drop out of the 6 to 9 hour period, the more at risk of heart attack.

When researchers looked at participants with a genetic predisposition to heart disease, they found that those who sleep between six and nine hours reduced their risk of heart attack by 18 percent.

"This provides some of the strongest evidence that sleep duration is a key factor in heart health, and that applies to everyone," Wind said.

Studies have long shown some relationship between sleep and heart health, but with a myriad of other factors, researchers have failed to determine whether poor sleep causes heart problems or vice versa. In this new study, researchers combined observational and genetic research to ask questions in a new way and included 30 other factors – including body composition and physical activity.

They then found that sleep duration influences the risk of heart attack, regardless of other factors.

Lead author Ias Douglas, a medical student at Harvard University, said he hoped this would be a hopeful message to society.

"No matter what your inherited risk of heart attack, sleeping a healthy amount can reduce that risk just as eating a healthy diet, smoking and other lifestyle approaches can," he said.

Read the full study here at the Journal of the American College of Cardiology online here

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