Today, we celebrate the first anniversary of the eighth metric to be added to the Life’s Essential checklist- Sleep Duration. Sleep is an important factor for health because it enables the body to repair and be fit and ready for another day. Unfortunately, more than one third of US adults sleep less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours each night.
American Heart Association President Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., FAHA, “The new metric of sleep duration reflects the latest research findings: sleep impacts overall health, and people who have healthier sleep patterns manage health factors such as weight, blood pressure or risk for Type 2 diabetes more effectively.”
According to the 2023 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update, each 1 hour/night decrease in sleep duration below the recommended 7-8 hours/night is associated with 6% higher CVD risk, while each 1 hour/night increase in sleep duration above the recommended 7-8 hours/night is associated with 12% higher CVD risk.
There are even notable racial and ethnic differences in the prevalence of both short sleep duration (<7 hours/night) and long sleep duration (9 or more hours/night), which contribute to the broader racial and ethnic disparities in CVD.
“Adding sleep to the conversation of health now legitimizes its importance on a greater scale,” said Dr. Nour Makarem, a cardiovascular epidemiologist and assistant professor at Columbia University in New York City. “Multidimensional sleep health is important because our sleep habits are not isolated, they’re interrelated. Sleep health as a whole may be stronger than the sum of its parts.”
The former list, known as the Life’s Simple 7s, included diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, body mass index, blood lipids, blood pressure, and blood glucose. All vital categories of health that work to make the heart, body, and mind healthy.
The Life’s Essential 8™ components of optimal health are now divided into two major areas – behaviors and factors. Health behaviors include diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure and sleep while health factors are body mass index, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and blood pressure.
This update will continue to focus on various components to identify specific behaviors and factors that drive optimal levels of heart and brain health for anyone ages 2 and older. With the help of scientific studies and researchers such as Dr. Makarem, we will continue to find ways to help everyone understand how to improve their overall health.