Healthy sleep habits could lower the risk of heart failure by 42 percent, study finds
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Five specific sleep habits are associated with a lower risk of heart failure, say medical experts.
Couple sleeping in bed, hotel room in daylight, jet lagged from traveling

Not only does getting a good night's sleep keep you alert and functional — it may cut your risk of heart failure by 42 percent.

That's the conclusion of a Nov. 16 observational study published in Circulation, a journal by the American Heart Association, which followed 408,802 U.K. study subjects between the ages of 37 and 73 between the years 2006 and 2010.

Heart failure, a condition that affects 26 million people worldwide, occurs when the heart doesn't efficiently pump blood to the body's cells, which causes weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath and other symptoms. It's usually triggered by conditions like coronary artery disease or high blood pressure which can damage the heart, says the Mayo Clinic, and is easy to overlook at first, due to the body's defense mechanisms: According to the American Heart Association, at first, the heart tries to "compensate" for its weakness by pumping harder and faster but over time, it succumbs to damage.

To understand what is "healthy sleep," researchers considered five factors: The duration of sleep, circadian rhythms (are subjects "morning" or "night" people?), insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep), snoring and daytime sleepiness. They determined that the healthiest sleepers get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night, rise early, rarely or never experience insomnia, do not snore and aren't excessively tired throughout the day.

Subjects self-reported all this information, including their histories of heart failure, which was also…
Elise Solé
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