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Sleep and Your Healthy Heart

A Healthy Heart Goes A Long Way

Does sleep help your heart remain healthy? Here’s a little background. According to the Mayo Clinic, heart failure affects 26 million people worldwide. It occurs when the heart doesn’t pump blood to the body’s cells efficiently, causing weakness, tiredness, shortness of breath, as well as other symptoms. Heart failure is typically brought on by other factors such as high blood pressure but is often in the early stages due to the body’s defense mechanisms compensating for this issue.

Getting enough sleep is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about getting a healthy heart. For many, what comes to mind when taking good care of their heart is to eat a healthy diet and exercise – or to quit smoking. However, as research suggests, getting enough quality sleep can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease and help you have a healthy heart. There are some key ways that lack of sleep and your heart health are related.

[Subjects of the study] who received an adequate amount of healthy sleep were associated with having a 42% lower chance of heart disease.
American Heart Association

How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart?

  1. High Blood Pressure – 5 hours of sleep or less can cause an increased risk of hypertension which can lead to….
  2. Heart Disease – An increased risk of high blood pressure, along with an increased level of inflammation-causing chemicals, can both play a role in susceptibility to heart disease.

An observational study published in Circulation, by the American Heart Association on November 16, showed promising results. The study followed 408,802 study subjects in the UK between the ages of 37 – 73 and between the years 2006 – 2010. It was the first study to take into account prior heart failure, heart disease, and medication of their subjects with the results. The study concluded that those who received an adequate amount of healthy sleep were associated with having a 42% lower chance of heart disease.

What Makes up "Healthy" Sleep?

5 Factors from the study were determined to make up healthy, quality sleep. The key term here is quality sleep and how it leads to a healthy heart.

  1. Duration – Most sleep experts agree that 7-8 hours a night is a good amount to aim for
  2. Circadian Rhythms – Early to bed, early to rise gives the deepest sleep.  However, keeping regular sleep hours is the most important factor.
  3. Insomnia – If you rarely (or never) experience insomnia, this, of course, is helpful for healthy sleep
  4. Snoring – Snoring can indicate a risk of sleep apnea, which is not good for your heart health (Adjustable beds can help with this issue)
  5. Daytime Sleepiness – Falling asleep or feeling sleepy during the day can be related to sleep apnea.  Thus, this can be a warning sign for your heart health

Breakdown of results from the study about sleep and a healthy heart

Want to lower your risk?  Here’s how. According to this study, the risk of heart failure was lowered by:

  • 8% in people who rose early
  • 12% in people who slept between 7 – 8 hours per night
  • 17% among those without insomnia
  • 34% among those who didn’t experience daytime drowsiness
  • 42% among those who followed all 5 factors

Other resources concerning sleep and your health:

Sleep Tips
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