Sleep is vital when it comes to keeping your heart healthy. Those who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk of contracting coronary heart and cardiovascular disease, no matter their age, weight or drinking or smoking habits. Getting enough, good quality, sleep is highly important when you want to lower your risk of these conditions.
It still isn’t clear as to why sleep has an effect on heart health, but some researchers have found that sleeping too little can cause disruptions in some underlying health conditions and biological processes, such as blood pressure and inflammation.
Sleep isn’t something we should take as a luxury. It is vital for good overall health and wellbeing and helps your body to repair itself, as well as allowing your body to function properly during th day.
What health conditions are linked to lack of sleep?
Adults who sleep for less than 7 hours each night are statistically more likely to develop health problems, such as depression, asthma and heart attack. Some of these health problems then also raise the risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attack. These health problems include:
- Type 1 Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease which causes sugar to build up in the blood and is a condition which can damage blood vessels around the body. Some studies have shown that people who get enough sleep can help to improve their blood sugar control.
Not getting enough sleep can affect the part of the brain which regulates hunger, meaning that a lack of sleep can lead to unhealthy weight gain. This is particularly true for children and teenagers, who need more sleep than adults
- High blood pressure
When we sleep, our blood pressure decreases. If you have sleeping issues, then your blood pressure will stay higher for an extended period of time and high blood pressure is one of the main links to stroke and heart disease.
Sleep conditions which can harm heart health
If you have sleeping problems, then over time, these can also damage your heart health.
- Sleep apnea is a condition where your airway is repeatedly blocked whilst you sleep, which causes you to stop sleeping for short amounts of time. Sleep apnea is linked to other health conditions, such as heart failure and obesity, which can increase your risk of developing it.
Sleep apnea also affects how much oxygen your body gets whilst you are asleep and increases the risk for other health issues, such as heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke.
- Insomnia is where you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or even both. It is believed that one in two adults will experience short-term insomnia at some point, with 1 in 10 then developing long-lasting insomnia as a result. Over time, poor sleep quality can also lead to unhealthy habits which can damage your health and heart, including higher levels of stress, unhealthy food choices and less drive to be physically active.
How can I get better sleep?
There are multiple ways in which you can better your sleep schedule. Try to stick to a regular sleeping schedule where you go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time every morning, even during the weekends. Whilst you may think it, sleeping in on the weekend can cause more damage to your sleep schedule.
Your diet and nutrition also affects your sleep quality. Try to avoid eating large meals an hour or so before you go to sleep and avoid caffeine after the afternoon. There are some supplements, such as EPA fish oil and high strength magnesium, which have been known to have positive effects on your sleep quality.