Sleep Is Important for Heart Health

One in three adults don’t get enough sleep due to high stress levels, poor diet and inadequate physical activity. Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, enough time to process all of the information your brain has absorbed throughout the day. 

Sleeping Disorders & Heart Disease

Sleep deprivation is linked to various heart conditions including high blood pressure, higher cholesterol levels and plaque buildup in the arteries. You may be at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease if you consistently get poor sleep.

The American Heart Association has added sleep to their list of “Life’s Essential 8.” This means the AHA recognizes sleep as one vital component of good heart health. The other seven components are:

  1. Eat better
  2. Be more active
  3. Quit tobacco
  4. Manage weight
  5. Control cholesterol
  6. Manage blood sugar
  7. Manage blood pressure

People with sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia are more likely to experience arrhythmias, heart failure and coronary artery disease and stroke. 

Snoring can keep you awake; it becomes difficult to keep the upper airway open because weight overpowers the muscles that hold it open. When airflow stops, the body releases stress hormones which can contribute to heart disease and other health conditions. 

Health Conditions Linked to Poor Sleep

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity

Losing as little as two hours of sleep can increase insulin resistance and decrease glucose tolerance. People with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke because high blood sugar can also increase cholesterol and blood pressure. 

What Counts as “Good” Sleep?

In order to get a proper amount of sleep, your body must have un-fragmented sleep to reach the different stages of the sleep cycle, each stage of sleep has a different benefit to overall health. 

Signs You May Have a Sleep Disorder

  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Waking up tired
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleepiness
  • Irritability or trouble paying attention when awake

How to Establish Healthy Sleep Habits

There are ways to get better sleep naturally. Try these tips:

  • Establish regular bedtimes and wakeup times 
  • Get active during the day so your body feels physically tired when it’s time for bed
  • Set your bedroom to a cooler temperature at night
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Refrain from using electronics or watching TV before bed

Cardiovascular Care at University Health

Learn more about the award-winning heart team at University Health’s Heart and Vascular Institute.

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