Immediate Link Between Poor Sleep and Atrial Fibrillation Risk

In a groundbreaking study conducted by UC San Francisco, researchers have unveiled a compelling connection between inadequate sleep and heightened risks of experiencing atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) – a condition characterized by irregular heartbeats that may lead to serious cardiovascular complications. The findings emphasize the critical importance of obtaining sufficient rest for maintaining heart health.

According to the study, a single night of poor sleep was associated with a 15% increased likelihood of experiencing an A-Fib episode, while prolonged periods of subpar sleep were correlated with longer episodes of A-Fib.

Dr. Gregory M. Marcus, the corresponding author and a distinguished cardiologist and electrophysiologist at UCSF Health, stressed the significance of addressing underlying conditions contributing to A-Fib, the most prevalent form of arrhythmia. He further highlighted that enhancing overall sleep quality could be an effective strategy in mitigating these risks.

“Treating insomnia can be challenging, but in many cases, there are things within an individual’s control that can meaningfully improve sleep quality,” stated Dr. Marcus.

He recommended establishing a regular and reasonable bedtime routine, avoiding the consumption of alcohol and caffeine before sleep, reserving the bed solely for sleep or intimate activities, maintaining a consistent exercise regimen, keeping the bedroom at a cool temperature, refraining from daytime naps, and awakening at the same time each day.

UCSF, a renowned institution in the field of cardiology, has been at the forefront of advancements in the treatment of heart rhythm disorders. While previous research has extensively explored the risks associated with A-Fib, this study marks the first instance where a direct and immediate connection to poor sleep has been established.

The investigation involved the monitoring of 419 participants enrolled in the I-STOP-AFIB trial. Each night, participants self-reported their sleep quality using categories ranging from “amazing” to “horrible,” and mobile electrocardiograms were employed to assess A-Fib episodes occurring the following day.

The results of this groundbreaking study have been published in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology.

Co-authors of the study from UCSF included Christopher X. Wong, MBBS, MPH, PhD; Madelaine Faulkner Modrow, MPH; Janet J. Tang, PhD; Eric Vittinghoff, PhD; Mark J. Pletcher, MD, MPH; and Jeffrey E. Olgin, MD. Additional co-authors comprised members of the Health eHeart Alliance and patients with atrial fibrillation.

The study received funding through a Patient-Powered Research Network Demonstration Project award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (Grant IU2CEB021881-01).

For more detailed information, please refer to the paper for disclosures.

The study appears in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology.

Co-authors: From UCSF, co-authors were Christopher X. Wong, MBBS, MPH, PhD; Madelaine Faulkner Modrow, MPH; Janet J. Tang, PhD; Eric Vittinghoff, PhD; Mark J. Pletcher, MD, MPH; and Jeffrey E. Olgin, MD. The study’s other co-authors were members of the Health eHeart Alliance and atrial fibrillation patients: Kathi Sigona, MA; Mellanie True Hills, BS; Debbe McCall, MBA; and Kathleen Sciarappa, EdD.

Funding: The study was funded by a Patient-Powered Research Network Demonstration Project award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (Grant IU2CEB021881-01). For disclosures, please see paper.

Sleep Resources

  1. National Sleep Foundation (NSF): The NSF offers a wide range of information about sleep disorders, including insomnia. You can find articles, tips, and resources to help improve sleep quality. National Sleep Foundation
  2. Mayo Clinic: Mayo Clinic provides comprehensive information on various medical conditions, including insomnia. Their website offers detailed articles, treatment options, and lifestyle tips to manage sleep problems. Mayo Clinic – Insomnia
  3. Sleep Education: This website provides evidence-based information on sleep disorders, including insomnia. It is managed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a reputable organization in the field of sleep medicine. Sleep Education
  4. American Sleep Association (ASA): ASA is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sleep health and supporting those with sleep disorders. Their website offers articles, resources, and tools related to insomnia and other sleep-related issues. American Sleep Association

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