A new study has found that adults with the healthiest sleep patterns had a 42% lower risk of heart failure regardless of other risk factors. Health sleep patterns are defined as waking in the morning, sleeping 7 to 8 hours a day, and having no frequent insomnia, snoring, or excessive daytime sleepiness.

Heart failure affects more than 26 million people, and emerging research suggests sleep problems may play a role in the development of the condition. To examine the links between heart failure and sleep, investigators examined data on 408,802 United Kingdom Biobank participants between the ages of 37 and 73 years. Incidence of heart failure was conducted until April 1, 2019, and the researchers recorded 5221 cases of heart failure during a median follow-up of 10 years.

The team analyzed sleep patterns as well as sleep quality, including sleep duration, insomnia, snowing, and other sleep-related features, such as whether the participant was an early bird or night owl and if they had any daytime sleepiness. Sleep behaviors were collected through touchscreen questionnaires, and duration was defined into 3 groups: short, or less than 7 hours a day; recommended, or 7 to 8 hours a day; and prolonged, or 9 hours or more a day.

“The healthy sleep score we created was based on the scoring of these 5 sleep behaviors,” said corresponding author Lu Qi, MD, PhD, in a statement. “Our findings highlight the importance of improving overall sleep patterns to help prevent heart failure.”

After adjusting for diabetes, hypertension, medication use, genetic variations, and other covariates, investigators found that participants with the healthiest sleep habits had a 42% reduction in the risk of heart failure compared to participants with an unhealthy sleep pattern. They also found that the risk of heart failure was independently associated and was 8% lower in early risers, 12% lower in those who slept 7 to 8 hours daily, 17% lower in those who did not have frequent insomnia, and 34% lower in those reporting no daytime sleepiness.

Notably, the authors said participant sleep behaviors were self-reported, and the information on changes in sleep behaviors during follow-up were not available. They also noted that other unmeasured or unknown adjustments may have influenced the findings.

Adherence to a Health Sleep Pattern and Incident Heart Failure: A Prospective Study of 408802 UK Biobank Participants [news release]. American Heart Association; November 16, 2020. Accessed November 20, 2020. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.050792