Sleep and Heart Health – How Are They Related?

sleep and heart health
photo credit: Mayo Clinic

How are sleep and heart health related? This might surprise you, but you should tuck yourself into bed tonight to keep your heart beating. Lack of sleep could mean a higher risk of heart disease, according to a recent finding from the Mayo Clinic.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a study of 3,000 adults over the age 45 found that “those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night.”

It seems like a good night sleep and the heart are linked, but how? To many, the link isn’t a shock. Sleep is necessary to keep many of the body’s functions in check. Sleep is the body’s time to restore and refresh. Without sleep, the entire body suffers.

Research has shown that limited or disrupted sleep causes several major health issues, including weight gain and higher blood pressure – both direct links to heart health. People who lack sleep tend to consume more calories during the day and are less likely to exercise.

Without sleep, the body’s biological functions suffer, too. The Mayo Clinic also found that people who had limited sleep had signs of endothelial dysfunction, a state of blood vessels seen in those at risk for heart attacks.

Another study by the American Heart Association found that poor sleep also causes inflammation, which is a known contributor to heart issues. This is more prevalent in women than in men.

Those who suffer from sleep apnea, disrupted sleep throughout the night due to lack of breathing, are at increased risk for heart attack and stroke. A study of men over an eight hour-period found that men with severe sleep apnea were 58 percent more likely to develop congestive heart failure than men without.

Although two of these studies have been focused on men or women, this issue can impact people of any gender, age, and weight. The link is clear – sleep helps your heart. So, do your heart a favor, and get some rest tonight. Download SomnologyMobileDoc to start tracking your sleep patterns!

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