By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
A study out of the Netherlands concludes that sufficient sleep – more than seven hours a night − should be added to lifestyle factors aimed at reducing the risk of cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack. The researchers did a 10 to 14 year follow-up of nearly eighteen thousand men and women (ages 20-65) and found an increased benefit resulting from sleeping more, in addition to four conventional cardiovascular-friendly habits such as regular physical activity, a healthy Mediterranean-type diet, moderate alcohol consumption, and not smoking.
When compared to individuals with none or one healthy lifestyle factor, the four conventional factors were associated with a 57 percent lowered risk total cardiovascular events and a 67 percent reduced risk of fatal events. When sleep was added to the four, the reduced risk was even greater, 65 and 83 percent, respectively.
This was the first study to analyze the addition of sufficient sleep to standard cardiovascular risk factors.
My viewpoint: The results make absolute sense. Nature operates on the simple cycle of rest and activity. You need adequate rest to stay healthy. A chronic lack of sleep makes you more prone to infections, irritability, and depression, of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, and even putting on excess weight because you tend to crave foods high in calories and carbohydrates.
What this means to you: Don’t underestimate the importance of adequate rest.
Recommendation: If you have problems falling asleep, there are many natural solutions. Taking sleeping pills is a dangerous option with many side effects.