Study objectives: Short sleep duration is associated with increased CHD (coronary heart disease) mortality and morbidity, although some evidence suggests that sleep disturbance is just as important. We investigated whether a combination of short sleep duration and sleep disturbance is associated with a higher risk of CHD than their additive effects.
Setting: The Whitehall II study.
Patients or participants: The Whitehall II study recruited 10,308 participants from 20 civil service departments in London, England. Participants were between the ages of 35 and 55 years at baseline (1985-1988) and were followed up for an average of 15 years.
Measurements: Sleep hours and sleep disturbance (from the General Heath Questionnaire-30) were obtained from the baseline survey. CHD events included fatal CHD deaths or incident nonfatal myocardial infarction or angina (ICD-9 codes 410-414 or ICD-10 120-25).
Results: Short sleep duration and sleep disturbance were both associated with increased hazards for CHD in women as well as in men, although, after we adjusted for confounders, only those reporting sleep disturbance had a raised risk. There was some evidence for an interaction between sleep duration and sleep disturbance. Participants with short sleep duration and restless disturbed nights had the highest hazard ratios (HR) of CHD (relative risk:1.55, 95% confidence interval:1.33-1.81). Among participants who did not report any sleep disturbance, there was little evidence that short sleep hours increased CHD risk.
Conclusion: The effect of short sleep (< or = 6 hours) on increasing CHD risk is greatest among those who reported some sleep disturbance. However, among participants who did not report any sleep disturbance, there was little evidence that short sleep hours increased CHD risk.