What Does Sleep Do To Your Heart?
Few people are aware of the surprising connection between sleep and heart health. We tend to think about proper diet and exercise as being major contributors to heart health. But did you know that your overnight habits count too?
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of adults get less than the minimum recommendation of 7 hours of sleep each night. Insufficient sleep, sleep apnea and other sleep disturbances such as anxiety and stress can increase the liklihood of developing heart disease and risk factors for heart disease, including obesity and diabetes. A regular lack of sleep may lead to high blood pressure (hypertension) in children and adults. What this means is that sleep problems can contribute to heart health problems, and in turn, heart health problems can contribute to sleep problems.
Make Time For Deep, Restful Sleep and …
- Give your arteries a break. Insufficient hours of sleep can seriously harm blood circulation, promoting the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries (atherogenesis), which can increase a person’s risk of experiencing a stroke or heart attack.
- Lower your blood pressure. Your heart slows down, and your blood pressure drops while you sleep. This nocturnal dipping gives your body a chance to heal from daily stress. Without this time off, you’re more vulnerable to hypertension and other issues
- Control your blood sugar. Maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule ensures that your endocrine system functions properly, especially with respect to insulin production. Sleep helps to stabilize blood sugar, lowering the risk for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
- Regulate your weight. Studies show that lack of sleep can throw your hunger hormones out of balance, and make you want to overeat, resulting in weight gain. Excess pounds increase inflammation and strain your heart, especially if they settle down around your midsection.
- Make sure you’re breathing properly during sleep. If you snore and feel tired during the day, you may have sleep apnea. This disorder causes you to stop breathing intermittently while you’re asleep, putting you at greater risk for heart attack, stroke, and atrial fibrillation. If you suffer from sleep apnea, ask your doctor about CPAP therapy and other treatment options.
- Minimize disruptions by turning off your phone and keeping outside noise to a minimum. Disruptions interfere with your ability to experience the 4 stages of healthy sleep. The deeper states of non-rapid eye movement sleep are especially beneficial for your heart.
Heart-Healthy Habits For Better Sleep
According to the American Heart Association, almost 80% of heart disease and stroke are preventable, Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Here are some suggestions to improve the quality of your sleep and overall heart health:
- Have a consistent sleep schedule. One study found that shift workers had almost 20% higher rates of coronary heart disease. If possible, go to bed and wake up at around the same time each day.
- Improve your diet. Learn the difference between wholesome and unwholesome food and enjoy better sleep and heart health by eating more wholesome food.
- Exercise regularly. Work your way up to doing at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. Cardio workouts like running and biking strengthen your heart and lower your blood pressure. Strength training conditions your heart and enhances your overall health too.
- Learn to relax, laugh and play more. It’s natural to feel anxious sometimes, especially in these chaotic times. Recreational activities, relaxing hobbies, or even just getting a few good laughs each day can help you to cope with stress and enjoy more restful sleep.
In conclusion: There’s more to sleep than meets the eye. Sleep affects your whole body in profound ways and we literally can’t live without it. Getting sufficient, restful sleep and practicing heart healthy habits can improve your heart health as well as lower your risk for many serious medical conditions. Sleep well and give your heart some love!
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