How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart?
Did you know that inadequate sleep can affect your heart health?
You increase the risk of heart problems when you don't sleep enough.
Poor sleep, which affects more than 33 percent of Americans, is a risk factor for developing poor cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, it's also a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes — the two most common types of cardiovascular disease.
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Conditions Linked to Sleep Problems
Think you can get away with being sleep-deprived? Think again. Whether sleep disorders or poor lifestyle choices cause you to lose sleep, not sleeping also puts you at increased risk for the following:
How Much Healthy Sleep Do You Need?
Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a day.
The amount of sleep you need depends on many factors, including:
- Your age
- Your health
- Your lifestyle
- Your work schedule
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How Sleep Helps
When you sleep, your body does some amazing things. For example, your blood pressure drops, and your breathing and heart rates slow down.
This gives your heart a much-needed break. During this time, your body recovers from the stress and strain placed on it throughout the day.
When you are sleep-deprived, your body misses out on this restorative, healing process. Instead, your heart continues pumping at full blast. Unfortunately, this leaves your blood vessels under constant stress, leading to dangerous results.
Unfortunately, getting poor-quality sleep is nearly as bad as no sleep. Research indicates that your risk for heart disease increases whether you don't sleep or if your sleep is interrupted by health conditions, such as an overactive bladder, and sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea.
Better Sleep Equals Better Heart Health
To protect against heart disease, aim for seven to nine uninterrupted hours of sleep each night. If you are unable to meet this goal, try these tips:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including on the weekends. Your body loves routine. Having a set sleep and wake schedule makes it easy to fall asleep and wake up ready to go.
- Keep your bedroom a sleep paradise. Screens emit blue light that can interfere with your body's production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Get rid of the TV and turn off your phone in the bedroom. Make your room dark and cool, and you'll enjoy better sleep.
- Have a nighttime routine. Whether brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or reading before bed, doing the same thing every night helps you get in the sleeping mindset.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.
- If you can't sleep, get up and write down your thoughts. This can help you clear your mind and make it easier to fall back asleep.
- Get up and move around if you can't sleep. Walking or doing some other form of light physical activity can help you fall asleep.