A woman waking up fresh from a good night's sleep and a heart vector

How Quality Sleep Lowers Risk Of Heart Disease

Regular exercise and a nutritious diet are not the only factors determining a healthy heart. Quality sleep also plays a major role in keeping your heart healthy. Sleep is extremely vital in almost all aspects of our physical health as it helps provide the time for the body to repair and recharge. Studies have shown how poor sleep quality puts individuals at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, a potential cause of heart disease. Likewise, insufficient or irregular sleep can also increase the risk of getting diabetes, heart attacks, and stroke.

The heart is one of the most vital organs in the body. It is responsible for powering the entire circulatory system by pumping blood throughout the body and ensuring that all organs and tissues in the body get enough oxygen they need. However, heart problems are a leading cause of illness and death, and while it is already a known fact that poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and smoking can harm the heart, there is also a growing awareness of the dangers of sleep deprivation for heart health.

This article aims to bring awareness to the benefits of quality sleep, its connection to heart health, how much is required, and the negative effects of lack of sleep. On that note, for starter, let’s just say that the better night’s sleep you get, the healthier your heart will be.

How much sleep do you need anyway? 

According to science, the amount of sleep one requires varies from person to person, and from kids to adults as well.

A man having difficulty waking up and putting the alarm clock off

Most adults need six to eight hours of sleep daily and that too little or too much can increase the risk of heart disease. It is also added that a healthy individual should be able to sleep within 15 minutes in bed and wakes up feeling well and rested, without the help of an alarm clock. This, according to experts, is the ideal amount the individual needs for a night of quality sleep.

How does sleep affect your heart health?

Lack of proper sleep can do far more than give you bags under your eyes. Numerous studies have shown that sleeping problems such as irregular sleep pattern, fragmented sleep and sleep deprivation are linked to many negative cardiovascular risks, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and stroke. Individuals with insufficient sleep have higher levels of stress hormones and substances that can lead to inflammation, a major factor in cardiovascular disease. Even a single night of insufficient sleep can agitate your system.

 Substantial studies have also demonstrated that people who regularly sleep for nine or more hours are more likely to have heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. This is because an excessive sleeping period can lead to calcium build up in the artery walls of the heart, causing plaques that increase the risk of a heart attack. They are also more likely to have stiffer leg arteries than those with normal sleep period.

Sleep ‘apnoea’ and ‘insomnia’ are the two major sleeping disorders that can harm the heart. Sleep apnoea occurs when the airway gets blocked frequently during sleep, causing a stop in breathing for a short interval. It affects the amount of oxygen the body gets while sleeping and increases the risk for many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Insomnia refers to trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Over time, poor sleep can also lead to unhealthy habits that can hurt your heart, including higher stress levels, unhealthy food choices, and less motivation to be physically active.

How does sleep benefit the heart?

Sleep provides the time for the body to rest and recuperate. It is an essential time where the heart rate slows down, breathing stabilizes, and blood pressure drops, reducing the work of the heart and allowing it to recover from the stress that occurs during waking hours. Getting enough good sleep also lowers the chance of developing insulin resistance, a condition that can lead to type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, a good night's sleep also helps increase the body’s production of certain appetite-suppressing hormones that help the body in avoiding unhealthy foods that may be harmful to the heart.

A person holding a pillow with their eyes closed

The positive outcomes of good sleep are also instantly evident when we wake up feeling fresh and revitalized. Beyond just feeling good, the positive effect of sleep is not just on your heart health but also on your breathing, your immune system, stress hormones, and your mental status. People with regular seven to eight hours of sleep per night have more alertness and better focus and feel less anxious and depressed. Getting a good night’s sleep has a positive impact on your metabolism and weight loss benefits.

How to get quality sleep?

Here are some tips to help improve your sleeping habits and help lower the risks of having heart disease:

  • Regular exercise or any other physical activity that can help you get active is crucial to promote quality sleep. Get enough physical activity during the day and avoid exercising right before bedtime.
  • Avoid excess stimulants, such as junk foods or sugary drinks before bed as they can keep you awake. Alcohol and caffeine are best avoided before bed as they both can interfere with sleep.
  • Avoid using excessive use of electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, etc. as they can throw off your sleep patterns.
  • An evening routine of bedtime preparation, including turning off electronic devices and having soothing activities such as a hot shower or bath can aid in this effort.  Drinking floral or herbal sleep-inducing tea like Daily Calm Tea can also be helpful, as can reading, praying or meditating.
  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, including on the weekends. This is widely considered to be one of the key ways to encourage and promote healthy and stable sleep each night.
  • Get enough natural light, especially early in the morning, and avoid artificial light, especially within a few hours of bedtime. Use a blue light filter on your computer or smartphone.
  • Create a sleep-friendly environment. Design or set your bedroom to meet your sleeping needs by ensuring the pillows and mattress are comfortable. Temperature, lighting, and noise can also play a huge role in creating an accommodating bedroom environment.

We often lose sight of the importance of getting good night’s sleeps when a hectic work schedule, meetings, binge-watching TV shows, deadlines are the order of the day. Getting a good night’s rest is essential for your body and your overall well-being. It should not be a luxury to achieve quality sleep. Instead, you should prioritize and try your best to make a habit of getting enough quality sleep each night. Besides its impressive benefits for the heart, good relaxing sleep also helps reduce stress and obesity. Radiant healthy skin with fewer dark circles and wrinkles are a bonus! So, do your heart and your health a favour, sleep better!

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