Sweet spot for sleep

When it comes to getting sleep, there’s a “sweet spot”: six to eight hours is best, a group of cardiologists concluded, warning that more or less can hurt your heart.

According to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich, Germany, exactly why is still a mystery, but people who slept less than six hours a night and people who got more than eight hours were at risk of developing or dying from stroke or coronary heart disease.

The new findings were based on 11 studies and more than one million adults.

“More research is needed to clarify exactly why, but we do know that sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammations – all of which have an impact on cardiovascular disease,” noted Dr. Epameinondas Fountas, of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Athens, Greece.

Dr. Fountas noted, “Having the odd short night [of sleep] or lie-in is unlikely to be detrimental to health, but evidence is accumulating that prolonged nightly sleep deprivation or excessive sleeping should be avoided.”

He advised, “The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get into the habit of getting six to eight hours a night — for example by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed, eating healthily, and being physically active. Getting the right amount of sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.”