Last week, the American Heart Association (AHA) granted sleep its well-deserved place on its flagship heart-health checklist, Life’s Essential 8Now, sleep duration sits on the AHA’s comprehensive list of metrics for cardiovascular health, alongside factors such as diet, nicotine use, and physical activity. The new recommendation suggests 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily for adults, and more for children, depending on age. 

“The addition of sleep duration to the AHA’s checklist is a landmark decision,” says UC Berkeley Professor, Matthew Walker, Ph.D., author of Why We Sleep and an Oura advisor. “Based on a wealth of scientific data, we now know that insufficient sleep is heartbreaking — quite literally,” he notes. “Without proper sleep quantity and quality, your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, hypertension, and stroke all increase.” 

Learn more about how poor sleep can impact your heart health.

Cardiovascular disease is the number-one cause of death in the U.S. and globally. But more than 80% of cardiovascular events can be prevented by lifestyle changes (like getting high-quality sleep!) and managing other risk factors on the AHA’s checklist. “Everyone can use sleep as a powerful tool to improve their cardiovascular health, de-risking all of these life-threatening conditions,” Walker adds. 

The updated guidelines take into account the extensive amount of research and scientific knowledge developed the past 12 years since the AHA’s original checklist was published in 2010. “We felt it was the right time to conduct a comprehensive review of the latest research to refine the existing metrics and consider any new metrics that add value to assessing cardiovascular health for all people,” said Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., president of the American Heart Association. 

Other changes include more generous scoring for DASH and Mediterranean-style diets, adding vaping and second-hand smoke to the nicotine use metric, and updating the blood lipids and blood sugar measurements. 

About the Oura Expert

Matthew Walker, Ph.D., is a professor of neuroscience at UC Berkeley, and founder and director of the school’s Center for Human Sleep Science. Professor Walker is the author of the New York Times and international bestseller, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. Professor Walker’s TED talk, “Sleep is your Superpower,” has garnered over 16 million views to date. His research examines the impact of sleep on human health and disease. He has been featured on numerous television and radio outlets, including CBS 60 Minutes, National Geographic Channel, and more, and hosts the 5-star-rated, The Matt Walker Podcast.