LAHORE: Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial to a person’s ability to function properly, and sleeping too little or too much has many health consequences.

Previous research linking poor sleep to diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease has been mostly observational, which establishes a connection, without proving that sleep problems cause these conditions. More research is needed to provide better causal evidence, says St-Onge.

Additionally, St-Onge states that healthcare providers should ask patients about how long they sleep, how well they sleep, and if they snore, to help determine if they are at an increased risk of heart disease.

Marie-Pierre St-Onge, said, "Patients need to be aware that adequate sleep is important, just as being physically active and eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and fish are important for cardiovascular health. Sleep is another type of ammunition that we can tailor to improve health."

People can be assisted with decreasing heart disease-related risk factors with intervention. Individuals, who are overweight, or who are obese and snore, should be referred to a sleep specialist to analyse for sleep apnea. Likewise, people who experience inadequate sleep or insomnia should receive follow-up evaluations, St-Onge concludes.

The statement, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, gives an overview of what is currently understood regarding sleep problems and cardiovascular-related risk factors. It also asks if improving sleep would decrease these risk factors and, therefore, the risk of heart disease.

Risk factors that are associated with both sleep irregularities and heart disease include obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and atherosclerosis, arrhythmias, high blood pressure, stroke, and unhealthy levels of triglycerides and cholesterol

While the reasons behind why not getting enough sleep is detrimental to heart health are unclear, scientists indicate that less sleep causes disruptions to underlying health conditions and biological processes such as glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation.

However, sleeping too much - beyond 8 hours - may carry the same risks of dying from coronary artery disease as having too little sleep, which suggests that there is a fine balance between sleep duration and heart health.

The prevalence of sleep apnea - a potentially serious sleep disorder where breathing stops and starts repeatedly - is high in people with cardiovascular problems including hypertension, heart failure, and stroke.

Underlying heart conditions including angina or heart failure can cause insomnia - defined as difficulty falling or staying asleep. Heart and blood pressure medications can also interfere with sleep.