Sleep & Heart Disease
Getting a good night’s sleep often results in higher energy levels, increased productivity and a healthier life. What you may not know is that sleep plays a vital role in heart health.
In order for your heart to be protected, you should be getting the right quality and quantity of sleep. If you are getting too little or too much sleep, you may be at a higher risk for heart disease in the future.
“To decrease the chances of getting heart disease, you should be sleeping between seven and nine hours per night,” says Dr. Mark Goetting of Bronson Sleep Health Specialists - Portage. “Sleeping within this time frame helps protect the heart by regulating the body’s cortisol levels, which affects stress. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your cortisol levels increase. Heightened cortisol levels overstimulate the heart, create rhythm disturbances and increase blood pressure. They also cause the body to use more oxygen. Getting enough sleep helps ensure that your heart doesn’t overwork itself.”
Other negative effects from sleep deprivation include chronic pain, increased depression, slower metabolism, decreased reaction times when driving and difficulty multitasking.
Here are some steps you can take to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.
- Remove all external distractions.
One way to maximize your sleep experience is to evaluate the environment of your bedroom.
“Sleeping in a dark, quiet and cool room is ideal,” says Dr. Goetting. “For an adequate night’s rest, it is important to remove all external distractions. This could include cellphones, pets, televisions or anything that has the potential to disturb you. Removing these items from the bedroom helps reduce the number of times you wake up during the night. The longer you can sleep continuously, the more your heart will be able to rest.”
- Exercise on a regular basis.
Exercising may also aid in regulating sleeping patterns. Depending on how much your body can tolerate, sleep can become normalized through daily exercise.
- Reduce your caffeine intake.
Reducing how much caffeine you consume may also help increase the depth and continuity of your sleep.
Sleeping too much can also be harmful. Getting more than nine hours of sleep may increase the amount of calcium in your coronary arteries. According to National Public Radio, calcium buildup is a warning sign of oncoming heart disease.
Whether you sleep too little or too much, consider setting two alarms: a bedtime alarm and a wakeup alarm. It is easy to become preoccupied with televisions, cellphones and news updates before going to bed. Setting a bedtime alarm will help remind you that it’s time to unplug for the night while a wakeup alarm will help keep you from oversleeping.
The next time you think about skipping or adding a few hours to your sleep schedule, think twice about how it will affect your heart and body. Not only will adequate sleep make you feel more energized and healthy, but it will help reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Start working toward healthy sleep habits today so that you can have a healthy heart for the future.
Sources: goredforwomen.org, npr.org, huffingtonpost.com
The Bronson Heart & Vascular team is committed to heart and vascular disease prevention, and sharing easy steps you can take to live a healthier life. Looking for a Bronson doctor to help you? For a complete list of providers at Bronson, visit bronsonhealth.com/find-a-doctor or call Bronson HealthAnswers at (269) 341-7723.