Sleep duration, insomnia, and coronary heart disease among postmenopausal women in the women's health initiative

Megan Sands-Lincoln, Eric B. Loucks, Bing Lu, Mary A. Carskadon, Katherine Sharkey, Marcia L. Stefanick, Judith Ockene, Neomi Shah, Kristen G. Hairston, Jennifer G. Robinson, Marian Limacher, Lauren Hale, Charles B. Eaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Background: Long and short sleep duration are associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD); however, evidence is inconsistent. We sought to identify whether self-reported sleep duration and insomnia, based on a validated questionnaire, are associated with increased incident CHD and CVD among postmenopausal women. Methods: Women's Health Initiative Observational Study Participants (N=86,329; 50-79 years) who reported on sleep at baseline were followed for incident CVD events. Associations of sleep duration and insomnia with incident CHD and CVD were evaluated using Cox proportional hazards models over 10.3 years. Results: Women with high insomnia scores had elevated risk of CHD (38%) and CVD (27%) after adjustment for age and race, and in fully adjusted models (hazard ratio [HR]=1.19, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.09-1.30; 1.11 95% CI 1.03-2.00). Shorter (≤5 hours) and longer (≥10 hours) sleep duration demonstrated significantly higher incident CHD (25%) and CVD (19%) in age- and race-adjusted models, but this was not significant in fully adjusted models. Formal tests for interaction indicated significant interactions between sleep duration and insomnia for risk of CHD (p<0.01) and CVD (p=0.02). Women with high insomnia scores and long sleep demonstrated the greatest risk of incident CHD compared to midrange sleep duration (HR=1.93, 95% CI 1.06 - 3.51) in fully adjusted models. Conclusions: Sleep duration and insomnia are associated with CHD and CVD risk, and may interact to cause almost double the risk of CHD and CVD. Additional research is needed to understand how sleep quality modifies the association between prolonged sleep and cardiovascular outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-486
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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