A recent study shows that healthy sleep patterns were associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke by about one-third, even among those at high genetic risk.
During an average follow-up of 8.5 years and with 7280 documented heart disease and stroke events, individuals who scored 5 out of 5 for healthy sleep behaviors "early chronology, sleeping 7-8 hours per day, never or rarely experiencing insomnia, no snoring, and not experience frequent excessive daytime sleepiness - had a 35% lower risk of incident cardiovascular disease (CVD), a 34% lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), and a 34% lower risk of stroke, compared to those who reported none or only one of these healthy sleep behaviors.
The researchers analyzed single nucleotide polymorphisms known to be associated with CHD and stroke. Participants were stratified as being at high, intermediate, or low genetic risk for each outcome.
They found a so-called additive effect with sleep behavior and genetic risk, so that those with the highest genetic risk and the least healthy sleep behaviors had the highest risk of heart disease and stroke
A clear, stepwise pattern of increased risk of CHD was observed as genetic risk increased and healthy sleep patterns decreased.
On the other hand, those at low genetic risk seemed to lose some of their inherent protection if they engaged in poor sleep behavior.