A GOOD sleep routine could prevent you suffering a fatal illness.
Scientists followed more than 7,000 healthy over-50s for a decade, and found just one in ten regularly enjoyed a decent night’s kip.
Compared to the poorest sleepers, those who were well rested saw their risk of heart disease or stroke plunge by 75 per cent.
Experts estimate if all adults got a proper shut-eye, then these potentially lethal cardiac events would plummet by 72 per cent.
Around 100,000 Brits are killed by cardiac disease and strokes every year.
The findings, presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual congress in Barcelona, suggest tens of thousands of lives could be saved simply by improving the nation’s sleeping habits.
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As many as seven in ten heart attacks and strokes could be prevented if everyone got a good night’s sleep.
Lead scientist Dr Aboubakari Nambiema, from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, said: “Our study illustrates the potential for sleeping well to preserve heart health and suggests that improving sleep is linked with lower risks of coronary heart disease and stroke.
“We also found that the vast majority of people have sleep difficulties.
“Given that cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death worldwide, greater awareness is needed on the importance of good sleep for maintaining a healthy heart."
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Experts think a lack of sleep triggers the body’s “stress responses” which then fuels inflammation and raises blood pressure.
French researchers scored volunteers out of five for five key sleeping habits, with zero being the lowest mark.
They include snoozing seven to eight hours per night, never or rarely having insomnia, no daytime sleepiness or sleep apnoea, and being a morning person.
After eight years of follow-up, 274 of the 7,203 participants had a heart attack or stroke.
Experts found risk fell by 22 per cent for every single point rise in the sleep score.
Around seven per cent of volunteers had the lowest mark of either zero or one – while the majority scored either a three or four.
It has led scientists to call for better sleep education.
Commenting on the study, sleep expert and author of Life Time Professor Russell Foster said a lack of kip leaves the body stressed.
And he urged Brits to prioritise their sleep, by going to bed at a fixed time and ditching excess caffeine and booze.
Prof Russell Foster, from the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at Oxford University, said: "The mechanism, in my view, is abnormal activation of the stress response as a result of the need to override the lack of sleep.
"What we know is that you then have increased blood pressure, altered immune responses, inflammation… that long term can lead to a greater risk of stroke and heart attacks."
Professor James Leiper, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “It’s concerning that so few of the people in this study got high sleep scores, as we know that getting enough good quality sleep is crucial for both our general wellbeing and for maintaining good heart health at every age.
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“A good night’s sleep allows your body to rest, which relaxes your blood vessels, in turn reducing your blood pressure.
"But there are a host of other ways that poor sleep could be increasing the risk of heart disease or stroke, including by increasing inflammation and affecting the area of the brain that controls stress hormone levels.”
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