BOSTON (CBS) – Most of us do not get enough quality sleep. Now another study shows how that may affect heart health.

As a nurse in a sleep clinic, Scott Moran knows how important a good night’s rest is professionally and personally.

“I was diagnosed about 15 years ago with sleep apnea,” Scott says. “I finally had an answer to why I was so tired.”

New research shows people who sleep less than six hours a night may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. The study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology finds an association between poor sleep quality and having more plaque buildup in the arteries throughout the body.

Dr. Deepak Bhatt is a Cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Having plaque in the arteries say to the heart is what predisposes to heart attacks, and having plaque in the brain is what causes most forms of stroke,” explains Dr. Bhatt.

Previous studies show lack of sleep can also increase other heart disease risk factors like blood pressure, inflammation and obesity.

But too much sleep could also be bad for the heart. The latest study suggests sleeping more than eight hours a night may increase plaque in the arteries, especially for women.

“Probably the sweet spot for sleep duration is around 7-8 hours,” says Dr. Bhatt, “But I should say that is 7-8 hours of really good sleep because again the quality of sleep matter it’s not just the quantity.”

That’s the amount of sleep Scott aims to get each night. He encourages anyone having trouble sleeping to see a sleep specialist.

“Snoring, waking up more tired than when you went to bed…your alertness, memory problems, definitely get it checked,” says Scott.

With the help of a CPAP machine, he says he feels well rested every day

The study also finds that people with short, disrupted sleep are more likely to drink alcohol and caffeine.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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