Lack of or poor-quality sleep has a clear impact on cognitive function, concentration, and energy level. However, recent studies suggest sleep may also be linked to your heart health. Can the lack of Zs really put you at risk of cardiovascular disease? Learn more about the intricate connection between sleep and heart health.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
The conventional wisdom is to get between seven to nine hours of sleep every night. While this holds true for the average adult, the ideal amount varies according to variables like your age and lifestyle factors.
Women who are pregnant, for example, may need upwards of nine to 10 hours of sleep during the first trimester. Likewise, pre-adolescent children may need nine to 11 hours for optimal health.
The Link Between Sleep and Heart Health
Deep non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep is essential for heart health. During this time, the heart rate slows and blood pressure drops, essentially allowing the organ to rest.
It also allows the heart to recuperate from high-stress activities during waking hours. It’s no surprise then that a study has linked chronic sleep deprivation to high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity – all markers for elevated risk of heart disease.
On the flip side of the coin, sleeping too much also poses a risk. Research has also shown that getting more sleep than you need for your age group can increase the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Ways to Improve Sleep
Are you struggling to consistently go to bed and wake up at the same hour each day? Are you struggling to fall asleep within 10 minutes of getting into bed? If so, you may not be getting optimal sleep. Here are some troubleshooting methods to improve sleep quality.
Limit Food Consumption Before Bed
Refrain from eating or drinking anything at least two hours before bed. The only exception is small sips of water. Heavy food/beverage consumption prior to bed can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, thus disrupting your sleep cycle.
Take a Melatonin Tablet
Melatonin is a natural sleep aid and a hormone our body produces naturally. If you’re occasionally having trouble sleeping, then it’s okay to consume a melatonin tablet. Do not, however, take melatonin daily as this will disrupt your body’s natural ability to produce the hormone. Continued use will also have diminishing effects.
Watch Your Naps
Power naps can be beneficial. However, if you regularly nap and then have trouble falling asleep at night, then napping may be the culprit. If you must nap, it should only be during mid-afternoon or earlier and should not exceed 20-minutes.
Exercise is good for the whole body. However, exercising right before bed can disrupt your sleep rhythm. Exercise releases the cortisol hormone, which keeps the brain on alert. Try to get your exercise in no later than three hours before bed. If you can only exercise prior to bedtime, then keep it low-impact, such as brisk walking or light yoga.
Minimize Personal Device Use
Smartphones and laptops emit blue light. Too much blue light exposure can trick your retina into thinking it’s daytime. Take care of anything you need to do online no later than two hours before bed.
Improve Both Your Sleep and Heart Health Today
If you have been struggling with insomnia or sleep apnea, it may silently be taking a toll on your heart. Please schedule an appointment with your local heart doctor in Lafayette, LA, Dr. Corwin A. Thomas, for a medical evaluation of your pulmonary function. Based on the diagnoses, we can provide a home plan for improving your heart health. This may include establishing a healthy sleep schedule.