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A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has confirmed a link between our sleeping hours and a heart condition. The evidence is so obvious now that the sleep-heart connection is no longer impossible to ignore.

Sleeping hours are now in the same line with smoking and high blood pressure when it comes to coronary artery risk factors.

The study showed that as hours of sleep dropped toward five or fewer from the eight hours most humans seem to need, the chance of developing coronary disease in young middle-aged men and women grew in close proportion. The study used a relatively new low-dose CT scanning technique to detect calcium buildup in arteries long before patients have the slightest idea any plaque was there.

Many previous observations have linked acceleration of hardening of the arteries in those people who were cutting down on their sleep.

Additionally, people afflicted with chronic loud snoring, a sleep disruptor known particularly to men, experience more heart attacks and higher blood pressure than those who sleep like a baby. Also a study done on thousands of middle-aged women found that those who slept for five or fewer hours a night had a greater chance of suffering heart attacks than similar women who managed a good eight hours of sleep.

However, sleeping too much was not a good thing either. Those who exceed nine hours were also upping their heart risk.

While these studies do not prove causality, they give a rather novel and surprising strong correlation between sleep deprivation and early coronary artery calcification that should definitely prompt sleep behavior changes. It is the time to make a seven-to-eight-hour sleep night a serious public-health goal for everyone in 2009.

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A brief afternoon nap may be an alternative for those who get less than 8 hours of sleep at night for various reasons.
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