Most of us know our diets play a big part in heart health, but did you know the amount of sleep you get can have an impact, too?

In findings presented at the American College of Cardiology conference in Chicago, research showed sleeping less than six hours a night — something six percent of Americans say is the norm for them — can make people twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack, and one-and-a-half times more likely to have congestive heart failure.

Why? Experts say a lack of sleep releases high levels of stress hormones that can in turn detrimentally raise blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar.

But it’s not just the sleep-deprived who suffer — lolling in bed too long can also have adverse effects. Those getting more than eight hours of shuteye every night are more likely to have chest pain and coronary artery disease. The reasons for that are less clear, but the prevailing wisdom is that sleeping more leads to exercising less.

Study author Dr. Rohit Arora, chair of cardiology at Chicago Medical School, concluded, “Based on these findings, it seems getting six to eight hours of sleep everyday probably confers the least risk of cardiovascular disease over the long term.”

[ABC News]