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Published On: Mon, Jul 15th, 2019

Can Better Sleep Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease?

It just happened to me the other day at the office. I pulled a sleepless night working on a personal project and went on to work in the morning with about half an hour of shut-eye for the night.

Half through the shift, I started noticing it – the consequences of my irresponsibility towards my sleep. Inability to focus on even the simplest of tasks. Sluggishness. Fatigue. I was an emotional train-wreck. 

I soldiered through a few more hours while drinking my 6th, 7th, and 8th coffee when I noticed my heart stampeding like a herd of buffalo. Really, when I got home, I had to meditate, light up an incense stick and drink three green teas before I was able to calm down and relax in order to fall asleep. 

I was worried. And rightly so. 

Numerous studies clearly state that chronic sleep deprivation and the risks associated with irregular sleep can lead to heart disease. 

Let’s take a quick look into the link of heart disease and sleep and how exactly does it lead to illness. 

What Does the Research Say?

Numerous studies presented at a meeting of the European Study of Cardiology indicate that either being chronically sleep-deprived or having excessively long sleeping sessions is linked with increased risk of heart disease. 

The list of what poor sleep can create a problem with is as follows: 

  • Hardened Arteries
  • Heart Attacks
  • Strokes
  • Heart Failure
  • Arrhythmia

photo/ Gerald Oswald

Furthermore, another study presented at the meeting states that middle-aged men who don’t sleep more than five hours a night have double the risk of having a major cardiovascular event. 

The public release you can find here states that finding that sweet spot when it comes to how long you are supposed to sleep is imperative in maintaining regular sleeping patterns.

The authors suggested that the recommended amount of sleep of 6-8 hours a night is what you should be aiming for. 

They found that averaging less than the recommended amount was associated with an 11% increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or stroke. Oversleeping was also found to be an issue. Getting more sleep than you need is associated with a 33% increase in risk. 

The Connection Between Sleep and Heart Disease 

While there’s no concrete evidence that clearly and adequately explains why does sleep play such an essential role in the optimal functioning of our hearts, we can make assumptions with the evidence we have. 

You see, as we’re pulling that all-nighter to catch up on our work, workouts or social life, our heart rate and blood pressure go down. Your body thinks it’s time to sleep. It shuts itself down. 

As you continue to be negligent about your nights, you will start to notice your blood pressure and heart rate going way up throughout your days. 

Have this scenario will continue for a while, and the constant irregularities in your heart rhythm can lead to a greater chance of cardiovascular problems. 

I like to think about the connection between sleep and heart disease as intertwined. Chronic sleep deprivation or oversleeping increase your risk of cardiovascular problems, while having a heart condition, in turn, makes it a lot more challenging to get proper sleep, creating a vicious loop that is hard to break out of. 

photo/ Claudio Scott

Takeaway 

Getting to that sweet spot and having 6-8 hours of sleep a night is imperative for staying healthy and keeping many heart problems away from having an impact on you. 

What you can do to be proactive about your sleep lies in basic sleep hygiene practices. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet, and reserve it only for sleep-related activities.

If your sleeping issues, however, stem from psychological or emotional trauma, depression, or anxiety, we encourage you to seek out professional assistance and get to therapy.

Author Bio:

Rebecca Smith is an editor at Countingsheep.net. She loves writing article related to healthy lifestyle. Most of her articles are about the proper sleeping position, nutrition, and good hygiene practices. When she is not busy, she dabbles in charcoal and oil paint.

 

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