Sleep and Heart Disease
It’s been well-documented that sleep is closely related to your health. However, not everyone may realize exactly how your health is affected. One of the more severe issues you may experience due to poor sleep deals with your heart health. Studies have found that sleep deprivation is associated with cardiovascular disease. Let’s look at the link between sleep and heart disease, as well as what you can do.
Heart Disease and Lack of Sleep
Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to many different heart conditions. When you’re in the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage of sleep, your body has a chance to recuperate. Your heart rate slows, blood pressure drops, and breathing stabilizes. As a result, there is less stress on your heart, letting it recover from strain.
Your blood pressure usually dips around 10 – 20% during healthy sleep. When someone gets poor sleep, their blood pressure doesn’t dip at night. This non-dip is tied to overall high blood pressure (hypertension) and can be indicative of heart problems. Specifically, not experiencing this dip is tied to increased risks for heart attacks, strokes and kidney problems. Furthermore, hypertension puts a strain on your arteries. As a result, they’re less effective at supplying blood to your heart, which can lead heart disease.
CORONARY HEART DISEASE
Here’s a not-so-fun fact: coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Coronary heart disease occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries, hardening and narrowing them. As a result, the heart gets less blood and oxygen. This is known as atherosclerosis and is linked to sleep deprivation. This is because poor sleep can trigger chronic inflammation, which contributes to plaque formation and hardening of the arteries.
One study showed that people who sleep less than six hours a night had a 20% higher chance of a heart attack. When you’re in NREM sleep, your heart slows down and is able to recover. However, when you’re in REM sleep, you experience increased activity and stress. Sleep deprivation can throw these stages off balance, resulting in a higher risk of a heart attack. Furthermore, sleep interruptions can also lead to a heart attack. This is because your blood pressure and heart rate can abruptly spike when your sleep is disrupted, causing cardiac stress.
Which Sleep Conditions Can Affect Heart Health
While poor sleep in general can impact your heart health, two specific sleep disorders can cause serious damage.
Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing repeatedly stops and starts. This is the result of your airway getting blocked during sleep. Sleep apnea limits the amount of oxygen your body gets while you sleep, potentially leading to multiple health issues. Conversely, sleep apnea can be brought on by health issues like obesity and heart failure. If you snore loudly and find yourself feeling tired, even after a full night’s sleep, you could have sleep apnea.
Insomnia refers to when you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or both. Insomnia’s been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Several factors can cause insomnia including stress, travel, work schedule, and poor sleep habits. In addition, mental health disorders, sleep-related disorders, medications and medical conditions can contribute to insomnia. Insomnia can lead to unhealthy habits that can hurt your heart. These include increased stress, reduced motivation to be physically active, and unhealthy eating.
How To Improve Your Sleep and Heart Health
There are a few things you can do to try and get better sleep. As a result, you may be able to improve your heart health. Sleep and heart disease are serious issues that should be addressed early on.
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR
You should consult with your physician if you think you have a serious sleep disorder, like sleep apnea or insomnia. The doctor may be able offer recommendations to help, such as a CPAP mask for sleep apnea.
STICK TO A SCHEDULE
Try and go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. This includes the weekends as well.
DEVELOP A ROUTINE
Another trick to going to bed easier is to start a sleep routine. Take a bath, read a book, start a journal – something relaxing to let your brain know it’s time to wind down.
Be sure to get in some physical activity during the day. Just not too close to your bedtime as it may keep you energized and awake.
Meditation and other breathing exercises are great ways to help you relax and let your mind unwind. There are a few different exercises to try, so see which one works best for you.
INVEST IN THE RIGHT MATTRESS
If your mattress is older than eight years old, it could be part of the problem. Sometimes an old, saggy, worn-down mattress can be what’s stopping you from getting a great night’s sleep. Visit your local Sit ‘n Sleep today and speak with one of our Sleep Consultants. We’ll help you choose from our huge selection of mattresses to find one that’s perfect for you.