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Poor people face a greater risk of heart disease ‘because they get less sleep’

Poor people are more likely to get heart disease because they sleep less thanks to long working hours and noisy neighbourhoods, study claims

  • People on low income 50 per cent more likely to develop heart disease than rich 
  • Scientists say less than six hours of shut-eye a night is cause in 13% of cases
  • They’ve called for double-glazed windows on all new homes to reduce noise

A lack of sleep may explain why poor people get heart disease more often than the rich, scientists claim.

Researchers found adults on low incomes were 50 per cent more likely to develop the deadly condition when compared to high earners.

The academics also calculated that getting less than six hours of shut-eye a night is responsible for 13 per cent of heart disease cases. 

And they warned poor people may struggle to get a good kip because they have to work multiple jobs to pay the bills.

Poorer people may also toss and turn over money worries, or are kept awake by the noise from crowded tower blocks and neighbourhoods. 

A lack of sleep may explain why poor people get heart disease more often than the rich, scientists said – people on lower incomes are likely to have to work longer hours or to live in noisier neighbourhoods, they said (stock image)

Scientists in Switzerland called for double-glazed windows to be standard on all new homes to reduce noise and help people sleep.

Councils should also avoid building new homes near airports or motorways, they said.

The findings, based on a review of data from around 110,000 adults, add to a wealth of studies linking insomnia to poor health. 

It is widely believed that insomnia, which affects an estimated one in three adults, changes how well the body functions.


Relax before going to bed. Have a warm bath, listen to music or practise meditation or yoga. Use bath salts, or throw in Epsom salts and baking soda – one cup of each. These will relax you and also help remove toxins from your body.

Don’t eat heavy meals close to bedtime. The energy your body will generate to digest the meal will keep you awake. However you can eat a small, low protein, high carbohydrate bedtime snack, such as juice and biscuits, which eaten about an hour before bedtime, can help you fall asleep sooner.

Play some soft, soothing music. Lull yourself to sleep.There are even cassettes and records designed for that very purpose. Some are specially composed music, others simply have sounds of waves rhythmically breaking, or the steady pattern of a heartbeat.

Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends and holidays. Once you’ve awake, get up. Don’t lie in bed thinking about getting up. Just do it. 

Sleep is vital as a restorative time, making the person feel energised and refreshed, experts say.

It also gives the immune system and the cardiovascular system a much-needed rest, and at the same time allows other organs to be restored.

Experts believe lack of sleep raises blood pressure and alters the metabolism – both of which are known risk factors of heart disease.

Academics at University Centre of General Medicine and Public Health in Lausanne used data from volunteers in England, France, Switzerland and Portugal.

Their history of coronary heart disease was obtained from a clinical exam, medical records, and questionnaires. 

These were cross-referenced with participants’ annual salary. The results of the study were published in the journal Cardiovascular Research.

Low income men were found to have a 48 per cent increased risk of suffering heart disease. For women it was 53 per cent. 

Average sleep duration was self-reported and split into three groups – recommended (six to eight-and-half hours); short (six hours); or long (nine hours or more). 

The researchers then used statistical analysis to calculate sleep’s impact on the development of heart disease.

They found it could explain 13.4 per cent of the link between insufficient rest and the deadly condition.  

Study author Dusan Petrovic, a researcher at the Swiss health institute, said: ‘Structural reforms are needed at every level of society to enable people to get more sleep.

‘For example, attempting to reduce noise, which is an important source of sleep disturbances, with double glazed windows, limiting traffic, and not building houses next to airports or highways.’ 


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