Study objectives: Short sleep duration is associated with increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. However, it is uncertain whether sleep debt, a measure of sleep deficiency during the week compared to the weekend, confers increased cardiovascular risk. Because sleep disturbances increase with age particularly in women, we examined the relationship between sleep debt and ideal cardiovascular health (ICH) in older women.
Methods: Sleep debt is defined as the difference between self-reported total weekday and weekend sleep hours of at least 2 hours among women without apparent CVD and cancer participating in the Women's Health Stress Study follow-up cohort of female health professionals (N = 22 082). The ICH consisted of seven health factors and behaviors as defined by the American Heart Association Strategic 2020 goals including body mass index, smoking, physical activity, diet, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and glucose.
Results: Mean age was 72.1 ± 6.0 years. Compared to women with no sleep debt, women with sleep debt were more likely to be obese and have hypertension (pall < .05). Linear regression models adjusted for age and race/ethnicity revealed that sleep debt was significantly associated with poorer ICH (B = -0.13 [95% CI = -0.18 to -0.08]). The relationship was attenuated but remained significant after adjustment for education, income, depression/anxiety, cumulative stress, and snoring.
Conclusion: Sleep debt was associated with poorer ICH, despite taking into account socioeconomic status and psychosocial factors. These results suggest that weekly sleep duration variation, possibly leading to circadian misalignment, may be associated with cardiovascular risk in older women.
Keywords: AHA 2020 goals; cardiovascular disease; ideal cardiovascular health; sleep; sleep debt.
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