Seven to eight hours. Not six, not nine, not five. Research shows that adults need to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night to maintain a healthy heart. Between seven and eight hours is considered a “good night’s sleep.”
While there are many factors that contribute to having a healthy heart, getting quality sleep is one of the most important. This is because during sleep, restoration takes place in your body. This can only happen, however, if you have good sleep hygiene. If not, you will notice symptoms of poor sleep.
SYMPTOMS OF POOR SLEEP
You may have already experienced some of the downfalls of lack of sleep. Yawning throughout the day, feeling groggy, or the inability to fully concentrate are a few symptoms. Others include a lack of energy, irritable mood and poor eating choices.
All these symptoms are warning you that your heart is at risk of disease due to a lack of quality sleep. There are many risk factors directly connected to the health of your heart through a good night’s sleep. Keep reading to find out how each one impacts your heath.
When you do not get the right amount of sleep, the hormones that regulate hunger and appetite are affected. Sleep deprivation affects the amount of leptin produced. Leptin is a hormone that tells your body to be less hungry and to get rid of energy.
Ghrelin and cortisol are other hormones associated with weight gain when they are not properly functioning. They are also hormones that operate at top performance when you get the right amount of sleep.
If you are not getting restorative sleep, you are likely to gain weight, especially around your waist. This increases your chances of heart problems. There have been reports showing people who sleep well eat fewer calories. Eating fewer calories promotes healthy weight and good heart health.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
High blood pressure happens when an increase in blood flow puts pressure on your blood vessels. Stress can lead to increased blood pressure. When you get a good night’s sleep, your body can better regulate stress hormones.
However, if you lack quality sleep, your body is not able to fight stress properly. This can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is directly related to heart disease and stroke. It is commonly accompanied by other risk factors, like cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a substance, some call it waxy, in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, and makes about eighty percent of your cholesterol, with the rest coming from the foods you eat.
When you have excessive amounts of cholesterol in your blood, it can form clots or clogs. These can break and cause a coronary event like a stroke or heart attack. Research has shown that getting too much sleep, and too little sleep, can have negative effects on cholesterol levels. This can put you at risk for heart disease.
Diabetes is associated with many factors, including lack of good sleep. Diabetes is when the body is unable to produce insulin as it should to maintain good health. It leads to an increase of glucose in your blood. It also affects how the glucose is metabolized in the body.
Type 2 Diabetes has been associated with chronic lack of good sleep through poor metabolism, weight gain, and changes to the autonomic nervous system. All of these can lead to problematic cardiovascular disorders.
Protective cytokines are produced during sleep. These cytokines increase when you are feeling sick or are trying to fight off germs, bacteria and viruses. If you are not getting adequate sleep, your body is not able to produce cytokines to protect you, leaving you vulnerable to disease.
This means your body cannot reduce inflammation or get rid of toxins if you are deprived of good sleep. If it cannot protect you, it cannot protect your heart, leaving it exposed and at risk for damage.
GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE
To avoid the above risk factors, it is important you have good sleep hygiene. For good hygiene, you form positive habits and routines that lead to good health outcomes. For instance, good oral hygiene consists of you brushing your teeth and flossing every night before bed and every morning with you wake up. Some of you brush after each meal.
Good body hygiene means showering or bathing each day using soap and water. You shave, wash your hair and use additional products to make your body clean and fresh. The same is true with sleep hygiene. You must form habits that promote good health.
Some tips for creating good sleep hygiene include going to bed around the same time each night so your body’s internal clock can adjust and remain stable. Prepare your sleeping environment for quality sleep. Turn off electronics and televisions.
Make sure the room is dark so your eyes will not be fooled by light and tell your body it is time to wake up. Get the right mattress, pillow and linens that make you feel the most comfortable. You want to create a space that makes you excited to fall asleep, instead of making you feel dread because you know you will be uncomfortable.
Don’t eat late at night and avoid caffeine for at least four hours before you want to fall asleep. If you have a sleep disorder such as restless leg syndrome or insomnia, seek treatment as soon as possible, from a lifestyle medical practitioner.
You can start immediately making lifestyle changes that improve heart health by reducing your risks for high blood pressure, diabetes and more. One of the best pieces of advice is to work with a lifestyle medical doctor who can analyze your risk factors through a heart health screening.
With your doctor, you can create a plan to make necessary changes to improve how well you sleep, so you can improve your overall health.