Insomniacs are 45 per cent more likely to suffer a heart-related death than those who do not have disturbed sleep.
Research carried out at the University of Florence by Dr Francesco Sofi determined that both quality and quantity of rest are important when it comes to avoiding cardiovascular disease.
Dr Sofi said the optimal duration for sleeping is between six to eight hours, but no studies had ever been conducted on the need for good quality slumber in a bed. This means the reasons for people developing insomnia need to be investigated.
"We believe the causes are related to stress, whether it's the economy and financial crisis through to work problems. An increase in stress leads to sleep disturbances, which is linked to cardiovascular disease," he added.
Dr Sofi looked at 16 studies from 1987 to 2011 where the patients had no heart problems at the start of the investigation. Some 6,322 events occurred over the monitoring period - including heart attacks, strokes and heart-related deaths - and then it was recorded how many of these individuals taking part had sleep problems.
From the results, he was able to conclude that insomnia is associated with an increased risk of developing and/or dying from cardiovascular disease. The findings also highlight the importance of having a good sleeping pattern in order to make sure a person stays healthy.
Dr Sofi believes clinicians have an important role to play in this area, as they should be asking patients questions about how they are sleeping, especially as insomnia has also been linked to anxiety, depression and diabetes.
The issue of anxiety is one that hypnotherapist Sharon Stiles is particularly concerned with. She believes that people will enjoy much better rest if they tackle the problems causing their anxieties in the first place.
Eating properly, cutting back on drinking and taking regular exercise are just some of the lifestyle changes that can be implemented by people to improve the quality of slumber they have.
Posted by Michael Ewing