How Sleep and Heart Health Affect Each Other
Sleep plays a vital role in health - no question, right?
When things get hectic in our lives, however, sleep is often the first to be sacrificed or kicked down the list of priorities. It always seems to be the least of our concerns when we are chasing down that deadline or rushing to get things done.
If we neglect sleep, though, our quality of life and health will suffer. We end up cranky, sickly, and always tired.
Further, the effects of lack of sleep aren't confined to the day after a late night. Problems and complications can build up and lead to long-term health issues - from stress and anxiety and weight gain to weakened immunity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Your Heart and Sleep
The heart is a tiny and tireless organ that works very hard for you 24 hours a day. By pumping blood throughout the body, the heart ensures that every part of the body gets the oxygen it needs.
Heart problems are widespread in our society - in fact, this is the leading cause of illness and death in the US. And while it's already well-known that lifestyle factors such as poor diet, exercise, alcohol and smoking are harmful to the heart, there's a growing recognition now of how SLEEP greatly affects our cardiovascular health.
Also Read: Do Sleep Problems Run in the Family?
The answer is simple, even if it's not always easy for everyone: Get better sleep!
How Sleep Benefits your Heart
Many of the physical changes that happen in your body during sleep serve to ease your heart's workload, explaining a lot of the benefit proper sleep has on your cardiovascular system:
- Your heart rate slows down by around 10 to 20%.
- Blood sugar is regulated.
- Blood pressure is lowered.
- Fewer stress hormones are produced.
- Cells and tissues receive repair.
The body needs rest to rejuvenate and be energized the next day!
If you've been diagnosed with heart issues, you may also experience worsened sleep disorders:
- Insomnia. Prolonged insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, chronic sleep deprivation can mean that your blood pressure does not go down during bedtime - and in some cases, can elevate at night.
- Sleep apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition in which the throat tissues or back of the tongue block the airways during sleep. Short pauses in breathing interrupt sleep quality and cause a lack of oxygen, which increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. (Also Read: Most Common Sleep Issues for Men)
- Narcolepsy. This neurological sleep disorder affects the sleep and wake cycles, causing overwhelming daytime sleepiness. Narcolepsy and its treatments both increase blood pressure, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease.
Sleep Tips for People With Heart Problems
Better "sleep hygiene" will improve your sleep, which leads to better health. Here's what experts recommend:
- Have a consistent sleep schedule. A regular bedtime and consistent hours are good for heart health.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and bright screen exposure a few hours before sleep.
- Engage in relaxation exercises and soothing activities at bedtime. Practice yoga, meditation, or draw yourself a hot bath. This will have you pre-relaxed when you jump into bed.
- Design a sleep environment conducive to sleep. Your bedroom should be like a cave: cool, dark, and quiet.
- Avoid sleeping on the left side if you have heart problems, particularly congestive heart failure.
Want more info and support?
Speak to our sleep specialists regarding your conditions and symptoms so we can best recommend a bed suitable for you. Your journey for a pain-free life is within reach!
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Knowledge is power: it's important to educate yourself and to prioritize sleep. Check out our recent blog posts to know more about sleep issues:
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