Most often, we are guilty of ignoring the health of the most hardworking organ in the body – the heart. This muscular organ is the size of a clenched fist and pumps blood to all parts of the body. It beats about 2.5 million times over the average lifetime and carries oxygen, hormones, and nutrients to the rest of the body. It is a task that the heart takes on happily provided you look after it well. The key to a healthy heart is a healthy lifestyle.
There is, however, one essential behavioral aspect that plays a major role in heart health. It is sleep. In this piece, we explore how the heart gets affected by sleep and the ways you can avoid them.
Sleep and CHD
Sleep deprivation increases the hazards of the Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) in both men and women. In a Whitehall II study conducted with 10,300 participants, it was concluded that those who experienced disturbances in sleep saw a rise in the risk of CHD. The findings saw that disturbances in the physiological processes during sleep are the cause of the increased risk. It is crucial for the body to experience the restorative and healing properties that are associated with sleep. Lack of adequate levels of sleep can increase cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose concentrations which are all contributing factors for Coronary Heart Disease.
Sleep and Hypertension
During sleep, the body regulates the stress hormones, drops heart rates and works towards keeping the nervous system healthy. The blood pressure during the night reduces as the body begins its restorative process. Lack of this dipping of nocturnal BP is an independent factor of cardiovascular illness. In a survey conducted on 4,810 middle-aged Americans by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, it was found that short sleep duration led to a 60% higher risk of hypertension over a later year follow up. The causes of sleep deprivation can be stress, physical ailments, mental illness, an uncomfortable sleep setting and so on. It is, therefore, crucial to be able to isolate these causes and control it before it causes life-threatening damage to the heart.
Sleep and Blood Sugar
A vicious cycle where sleep affects the blood sugar levels and the sugar levels affect sleep put you in an unhealthy, deadly entrapment. The chronic stress on the body caused by sleep deprivation not only affects the mood but also builds resistance to insulin. This, in turn, increases the blood sugar levels, putting you at risk of diabetes. Researches at Boston University School of Medicine found those people who slept less than six hours at night were at a higher risk of experiencing blood sugar complications compared to people who slept eight hours at night.
Over time, high blood sugar can cause damage to blood vessels putting you at a higher risk of developing heart disease. Heart disease and stroke are common causes of death among adults. Therefore, it is important for people to begin practicing a relaxing bedtime ritual, regular sleep schedules, ensure they get adequate sleep, and move toward a healthier life.
Sleep and Obesity
The obesity epidemic has been on a rise, paving the way for serious health complications. The epidemic has been growing parallel to complaints of inadequate sleep. Sleep not only restores our body but is required for its efficient functioning. Lack of sleep brings about changes in appetite-regulating hormones, leading the body to get hungry and consume more food. Leptin is the hormone produced by fat cells that send signals to the brain when it needs energy. Lack of sleep decreases the levels of leptin in the body, causing the brain to believe it needs food for energy. The normal reaction is to grab a bite to eat.
Ghrelin is a hormone saddled with the task of regulating appetite and stimulating hunger. With sleep deprivation, the levels of ghrelin increase making the body hungry. Prolonged sleep deprivation and irregular hormonal changes lead to obesity. The association between obesity and heart disease is multifaceted. It leads to diabetes, cholesterol abnormalities, and hypertension. It also leads to the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Obesity increases the risk of atrial fibrillation that may lead to stroke or heart failure.
Sleep and Recovery from heart issues
One of the common consequences of suffering from heart disease is the inability to get adequate sleep at night. More than half of stroke survivors complain about difficulty in sleeping. It is important for people to work toward getting abundant sleep to help the brain recover. Lack of sleep can reduce the rate of recovery, lead to memory problems and cause depression. Rest is an important part of recovery and stroke survivors need plenty of it.
One way to overcome sleep problems and get on the path of recovery is to take mindful steps toward relaxation. Improving your sleeping environment is one way to promote restful sleep. The Dreamcloud mattress setup is a great way to create a comfortably luxurious sleeping environment. You can also visit the carpet and rug store to create a warm, inviting space in the bedroom. Another way is to implement strict sleeping schedules and partaking in meditation sessions. The faster the brain relaxes, the faster the recovery would be.
Ten tips to sleep better:
- Create a cool dark environment to fall asleep faster. Use fans and blackout curtains for optimal sleeping conditions.
- Exercise regularly and increase physical wellness. Regular exercise helps you sleep faster and better through the night.
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and drugs in your lifestyle. These unhealthy substances create disruptive sleeping patterns, increasing the risk of serious illnesses.
- Use the bedroom only to sleep. Remove phones, tablets, television sets and other devices from the bedroom.
- Use comfortable sleeping positions that foster good rest.
- Visit the doctor for yearly health check-ups. It is important to regularly evaluate how healthy you are and incorporate ways to improve it.
- Use meditation to clear your mind and reduce stress. Stress and anxiety are one of the biggest killers of adequate sleep.
- Reduce intake of caffeine before sleep.
- Use white noise machines to drown out audible distractions.
Practice healthy sleeping rituals. It can be a warm bath or even a glass of relaxing chamomile tea. Healthy sleeping rituals promote long-term improvement in sleeping behavior.