June 6 (UPI) -- Sleeping longer may help people who don't get enough rest avoid cardiometabolic risks like heart disease and metabolic disorders, a new study says.
People who slept extra hours had better insulin sensitivity, a reduction in appetite and desire for sweet and salty foods, less intake of daily free sugar and a lower percentage of daily caloric intake from protein, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Sleep Research. Reducing those risk factors greatly lowers the chances of developing cardiometabolic risks.
"Given the overwhelming evidence that sleeping less than seven hours is associated with an increased cardiometabolic risk, it is surprising that so few studies have explored whether extending sleep duration can lower cardiometabolic risk," Rob Henst, a researcher at University of Cape Town, South Africa and study lead author, said in a news release.
The researchers analyzed seven prior studies that attempted to use sleep extension interventions, ranging from three days to six weeks, to lengthen sleep duration in adults. In all, those studies included 138 people who were healthy, healthy short-sleeping, overweight short-sleeping or pre- or hypertensive short-sleepers.
The study participants extended their total sleep time by between 21 and 177 minutes, the researchers say.
The findings sync up with other research that has shown the benefits of sleeping longer on heart health. One study has shown that sleeping less than six hours a night can lead to heart disease. Other work has reported people with sleep apnea may be three times as likely to suffer heart failure.
Researchers on the new analysis pointed to its findings as a roadmap for more studies on the topic in the future.
"Although we have focused on studies with sleep extension interventions in this review, it is now apparent that poor sleep quality may be an equally important risk factor for cardiometabolic disease," said senior author Dale Rae, of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. "Thus future studies testing interventions aimed at improving sleep quality are also required."