Sleep is an important component of everyday living. It does not only relax the body, but it also provides a period for tissues and organs to regenerate and fix issues. A new study provides evidence of how crucial sleep is for optimum heart health.

Published in the journal Clinical Cardiology, the meta-analysis of previously published research found a potential link between insomnia and heart attack risk, especially in women.

Since insomnia is closely associated with cardiovascular disease, the researchers decided to assess the eligibility of the condition as a potential risk factor for myocardial infarction (MI) or heart attack.

The pooled analysis of studies on insomnia and MI from PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science revealed a significant association between the two conditions. People with insomnia were found to be 1.69 times more likely to have a heart attack than non-insomniacs.

The team also found a link between increased MI risk and sleep duration at night. People who slept five hours or less were found to have the highest heart attack risk. They were 1.56 times more likely to have an MI than people who slept seven or eight hours per night.

Because insomnia is the most common sleep disorder affecting the general population, the authors said their findings should prompt the medical community to consider it a risk factor for MI. Sleep should also be incorporated into heart attack prevention guidelines, according to them.

"Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, but in many ways, it's no longer just an illness, it's more of a life choice. We just don't prioritize sleep as much as we should. Our study showed that people with insomnia are more likely to have a heart attack regardless of age, and heart attacks occurred more often in women with insomnia," study author Yomna E. Dean, a medical student at Alexandria University in Alexandria, Egypt, said, as quoted by News Medical.

“Insomnia is actually quite common. We see it probably in 1 in 10 patients in the United States. It is my impression that almost everyone experiences insomnia at some point in their life. The estimate is that 1 in 2 adults experience it at some point in their life, maybe in the short term because of stressful moments,” Dr. Martha Gulati told CNN.

Gulati, the director of prevention at the Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Institute, who was not involved in the study, further reacted to the new research by explaining how a lack of sleep affects blood pressure.

“What really happens when you’re not getting enough sleep is that your cortisol gets out of whack. If you are having sleep problems, we know that your blood pressure is more elevated at night,” she said.