Correlation between Sleep and Heart Health
If you're concerned about heart health, there are things you should avoid, such as smoking, eating processed foods, and consuming a lot of sugar.
There are also things you can do to improve your heart health, such as getting plenty of exercise, lowering blood pressure, and managing cholesterol. What you may not know is there's also something you can do that involves no effort or sacrifice at all: sleeping.
Research Shows Sleeping Well Is a Key to a Healthy Heart
There is a growing body of scientific research demonstrating the link between sleep and heart health. Dr. Arshed Quyyumi, of the Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute, recently studied thousands of patients undergoing a procedure known as cardiac catherization. He found 39% of patients who had coronary artery disease also slept less than 6.5 hours per night. Patients with short average sleep periods had an above-average mortality rate from cardiovascular issues.
Professor Brooke Aggarwal, of Columbia University's Department of Medicine, also studied people with short sleep duration. She found women who sleep less than five hours per night are at significantly higher risk of high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease.
As a result of studies like these, the American Heart Association added sleeping well to its list of cardiovascular health tips. This will change the way cardiologists assess and treat patients.
Why Is it Important to Understand Heart Health Risk Factors?
The number one cause of death among Americans is cardiovascular disease. In fact, one American dies from it every 34 seconds. Fortunately, you can significantly lower your risk by knowing heart health risk factors and doing what you can to minimize them. In fact, some doctors say a good 80% of cardiovascular problems can be prevented this way.
How Does Sleep Improve Your Heart Health?
Your body and brain need regular rest to function properly. When you don't get enough regular sleep, your blood pressure can go up and your immune system may start overreacting to potential infection, increasing inflammation responses throughout the body. That includes your heart. Both of these problems increase the risk for cardiovascular issues. When you sleep well, your body does not react in ways that create heart-related problems.
So What Exactly Is "Sleeping Well?"
There are a few different things that determine how well you are sleeping. One is the amount you sleep each night. While the amount of sleep each person needs can vary a bit, the average is eight hours a night.
How deeply you sleep is also a factor. If you're tossing and turning all night, for example, you're not sleeping well even if you sleep eight hours every night.
There is not a lot of research on sleep consistency, or waking up and going to sleep at the same times each day. However, some research shows sleep consistency is a factor in how well you sleep and how effective your sleep is at improving your heart health.
Improving heart health requires a bit of self discipline: exercise, eating healthy, and so forth. So take advantage of the easier things you can do to help it. When you think about improving your heart health, don't forget about how you can improve your sleep.