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The Fifth Habit Can Save Your Life


Are you practicing the fifth habit that could save your life?

Thanks to a study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, we now know and can practice the four habits that reduce our risk for heart disease, including the risk of suffering a fatal heart attack:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Consuming a moderate amount of alcohol.

Practicing these habits is associated with a 57 percent lower risk of both fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular disease. The risk of a fatal heart event was decreased by 67 percent.

To reduce the risk even further, we can add a fifth habit: getting a good night's sleep. When the practice of getting sufficient sleep and awaking rested was added to the four other habits, the risk of suffering from fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular disease was reduced by 65 percent. And the risk of a fatal heart event was decreased by 83 percent.

The study's lead researcher, Dr. Monique Verschuren from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, noted that seven hours of sleep "is likely to be sufficient for most people." She also recommends that getting sufficient sleep be added to the list of ways to reduce our risk for heart disease.

Around 1600, Thomas Dekker, a writer and dramatist, wrote that sleep is "the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together." Four centuries later, he has a research study to back up his claim.

Are you getting enough rest? If you are curious about the medical implications of insufficient sleep, you might want to check out Sleep, a journal that publishes the latest findings on the health implications of adequate and inadequate amounts of sleep. You'll find fascinating articles on topics ranging from sleep fragmentation and its relation with the risk of Alzheimer's disease to how sleep restriction affects weight gain.

Just don't stay up too late reading.

Photo courtesy of Bex Ross on Flickr.

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