It’s becoming increasingly obvious that a good night’s sleep makes for a healthy and thriving life.

As yet another example of that, a new study published Wednesday in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology has found that poor sleep habits are linked to a higher risk of developing early warning signs of heart disease.

"Inadequate sleep is a common problem and a likely source of poor health, including visible signs of disease, such as heart attack," said study co-lead author Dr. Chan-Won Kim, a clinical associate professor in the Center for Cohort Studies at Kangbuk Samsun Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea, in a statement.

Studying the medical records of nearly 50,000 adults, the study authors were to detect a correlation between the participants’ sleep habits - as detailed via a questionnaire - and their measured levels of coronary artery calcification (CAC) and arterial stiffness. Both measures are known to predict later coronary disease and related heart conditions, in particular because calcium is deposited in the arteries as they become clogged with plaque.

Compared to people who reported 7 hours of sleep every night, people with only 5 hours of sleep had on average around 50 percent more calcium in their arteries, and those who slept 9 or more hours had around 70 percent more calcium.  Additionally, people who reported poor sleep quality had about 20 percent more coronary calcium than those who slept soundly.

"We also observed a similar pattern when we measured arterial stiffness," said co-lead author Dr. Yoosoo Chang, also an associate professor in the Center for Cohort Studies at Kangbuk Samsun Hospital. "Adults with poor sleep quality have stiffer arteries than those who sleep seven hours a day or had good sleep quality. Overall, we saw the lowest levels of vascular disease in adults sleeping seven hours a day and reporting good sleep quality."

Looking more specifically at gender, the authors found that poor sleep quality only predicted more CAC in women, and that the link between sleep quality and arterial stiffness was strongest in men.

Because people were asked to self-report how long and how well they sleep, there’s a chance that the authors underestimated the impact of sleep on heart health, since people frequently downplay how poorly they’re actually sleeping.

Taken as a whole, the authors concluded that their findings “underscore the importance of an adequate quantity and quality of sleep to maintain cardiovascular health,” and Kim believes that clinicians should routinely ask about their patients’ sleep habits when trying to assess heart risk.

Source: Kim C-W, Chang Y, Zhao D, et al. Sleep Duration, Sleep Quality, and Markers of Subclinical Arterial Disease in Healthy Men and Women. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. 2015.