With coronary heart disease being the leading cause of death within the United States, many are looking for ways they can improve their heart health. With so many ways to improve your heart health it is no surprise that proper and adequate sleep is one way.
Below we will look into just how sleep impacts the health of your heart. As well as various ways to improve your sleep for not only better heart health but overall health too.
Sleep Deprivation & Heart Disease:
Our bodies need healthy sleep each night in order to function properly. When we are not getting enough sleep, it can have some very serious repercussions. This includes an increased risk of heart disease. The following is a list of heart health complications that can be effected by your sleeping habits.
- High Blood Pressure
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Cardiac Arrhythmia
- Coronary Artery Disease
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Pulmonary Hypertension
Sleep deprivation can also increase likelihood of developing health issues that could effect your heart health. Some of these potential health issues include – Obesity, Diabetes, Increased Cortisol Levels, and Cancer.
7 – 9 Hours of Sleep Each Night Recommended:
You may see in many places 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night suggested. And while we even recommend this amount of sleep to most, ideally you should be averaging closer to 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Once you begin to get less than 6 hours of sleep, you may begin to notice some health complications.
Even as little as one night with less than 5 hours of sleep can take a negative toll on your immune system. This is because our immune systems are very active while we sleep. Without the time in order to work all of their functions, this can mean you may be more susceptible to getting sick.
If you work nights, then you should take a look at out post: The Best Sleep Schedule For Night Shift
What Happens To Your Heart As You Sleep?
Sleeping is a time for our bodies and minds to rest and recuperate. In a sense we are resting in order to recharge our batteries and do some general maintenance on our bodies so that we can restart fresh the following day.
During the Non-REM stages of sleep blood pressure tends to lower overall. Blood pressure tends to be around 10% – 20% lower while we are asleep then when we are awake. Our breathing also becomes deeper, slower, and more regular. This helps to lower stress on your heart throughout the night.
When you do not get enough sleep every night, your blood pressure tends to increase. If you are chronically sleep deprived, it becomes far more likely that you will experience hypertension (high blood pressure). This can have severe health ramifications, and can lead to heart disease among other dangerous health risks.
Your heartbeats tend to be very regular and will slowly increase or decrease in rate, with a direct correlation to an external source. Whether that is due to a burst in physical activity, stress, surprise, etc.
Heart palpitations typically occur without any seeming triggers. They are sporadic and are not seemingly set off by any outer influence. However, it has been noted before that some experience an increase in palpitations or general arrhythmia whenever that are notably sleep deprived. While it is undetermined as the the reasoning behind why people experience this, it is something to keep in mind.
Is stress making it difficult for you to get to sleep at night? Then you may enjoy reading our blog post: Why Can’t You Sleep When You’re Stressed?
Sleep Advice For Heart Health:
Avoid Sleep Deprivation:
When you are not getting enough sleep and your body is sleep deprived, there can be a domino affect on your health.
First your immune system is unable to perform vital functions that occur as you sleep. Then inflammation increases in the body which can be a trigger for plague build up.
As we mentioned previously a lack of sleep can also increase your blood pressure. When you are consistently living in a state of stress, elevated blood pressure, due to a lack of sleep, this becomes a recipe for heart disease.
Why do we need sleep? This is a great question with a long list of answers. Click the link to learn more about the importance of sleep, and we we need it.
Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule:
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is vital for your heart health. If you are inconsistent with your schedule it can be easy to accidentally fall into sleep deprivation our bouts of oversleeping.
When you are falling asleep and waking up around the same time each and everyday, your circadian rhythm gets stronger and it becomes much easier to fall asleep quickly, increases sleep quality, and helps you to feel better rested throughout the day. Like most things in life, it is not the one night of sleep that will make or break your sleep health, but a consistent sleep schedule that truly effects your health.
Trying to get back to a regular sleep schedule? Then you may enjoy our post: How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule
Do Not Oversleep:
It is true that there can be too much of a good thing. According to researchers from the University of Keele in England, people who spend more than 10 hours a day in bed had a 49% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 56% increased risk of death from stroke.
While most of us do not have the luxury of even considering spending more than 10 hours in bed, this can also be related back to a general lack of movement/activity. Making your time sitting in an office chair not much better for your health than laying in bed.
Want to try and wake up earlier in the mornings? If so, you will love out post all about how to Become A Morning Person
Avoid Working Night Shifts:
Night shifts take a rather negative toll on your health and wellbeing overall. It has even been deemed a potential carcinogen. This is because night shifts often cause a huge disruption in your normal sleep schedule. Which can lead to serious sleep deprivation as well as disrupting your bodies circadian rhythm.
Whether you only work a few night shifts a month, or you only work the night shift. We highly recommend working as little night shifts as possible, it not completely changing your schedule to only working throughout the day. Especially if you are concerned about your heart health, or if you have heart issues or cancer in your family history.
Learn more about sleep and cancer in our post: Cancer & Sleep
Be Mindful of Caffeine Intake:
We all get tired and having a cup of coffee in the morning for many is a daily routine. However, if you are concerned about your heart health, then caffeine may not be a great option for boosting energy. Talk to your doctor about whether you are healthy enough to drink caffeine, and if so how much the recommend having per day.
Caffeine can remain active in your system for up to 6 hours. Which means that afternoon pick me up could keep you from being able to fall asleep in the evenings. So even if you can have caffeine according to your doctor, you may want to be mindful of when you decide to stop drinking caffeine for the day.
Learn more about the sleep benefits on cutting out caffeine in our post: Caffeine Free: The Benefits of Quitting Caffeine
You Need Sleep Quantity AND Quality:
In order to keep your heart healthy and strong, you not only need to ensure you are getting the right amount of sleep, but also that you are getting a quality night’s sleep as well. If you are getting woken up frequently throughout the night, then your sleep quality is suffering. Different health complications like Sleep Apnea, Sleep Walking, Restless Leg Syndrome and so on can also have a negative impact on the quality of the sleep you are getting throughout the night.
If you are unable to rest through the night, then you may want to consider having a longer sleep time or taking naps throughout the day. While uninterrupted sleep is best, napping can also provide you the tools you need to stay healthy.
Keep a Sleep Journal:
If you are wanting to talk to your heart doctor about your sleeping habits and how they affect your heart health, which we highly recommend doing. Then you may want to start documenting your sleeping habits. The more detailed you can be with how you sleep, when you go to sleep, when you wake up, how many times you woke up throughout the evening, whether or not you had dreams, etc. The better and more informative you sleep journal will be.
You may even find that you are getting far more or far less sleep than you ever imagine you were getting. Keeping a journal where you write down this kind of information can help your doctor know you better and help you to get the care and medical advice you really need.
Not sure how well you sleep, or even how much? Then you should check out our post all about how to Keep A Sleep Journal
Sleep Advice For Heart Health – Final Thoughts:
When it comes to your health, we always recommend reaching out to your medical doctor for the best advice for you and your health. This is especially true when it comes to something as vital as your heart health. However, we hope these sleep tips help you to stay as healthy as possible from head to toe. When you are sleeping well, it often has great benefits for your overall physical as well as you mental health.
If you have any lingering questions for us, we would be happy to help answer them for you. Send us a message through our Contact Us page and we will get back to you as soon as we can.