The benefits of sleep (and the problems caused by a lack of it) have a direct influence on heart health. We know that sleep duration has gone down by 1 and a half to 2 hours a night per person over the last half century. This leaves all too many of us less productive, more emotional, with foggy, slower thinking processes and unable to fully enjoy all life has to offer.
Add to this more than one recent study that finds an association between getting less sleep (under 6 hours a night) and higher chance of heart disease.
In fact, during 2011 there was a review of 15 research projects that included just about 475,000 subjects. This review discovered that people getting minimum sleep had a 48% higher risk of suffering, or worse dying from heart disease during the 7 to 25 year period that followed, a 15% higher risk of dying from a stroke during that same time.
Curiously, those who got lots of sleep (9+ hours per night) also had a higher (38%) risk of suffering or dying from heard disease, a 65% higher risk of stroke.
No one yet understands the mechanisms behind sleep and heart disease. It’s not that amount of sleep causes heart disease, but it ups risk factors for this condition. Lack of sleep increases your risk of possible trouble.
One 2008 research project found an association between less sleep and higher coronary artery calcification, a good indicator of potential coronary artery disease.
Shorter sleep also predicted worsening high blood pressure. Blood pressure naturally goes down at night, so could it be that with less sleep, there isn’t enough time for the needed drop to happen?
Is it too late to make changes?
No one can say for sure. One of the reasons is that the impact of sleep on the heart is a newly studied area. Quantifying sleep is complicated as well, and many studies are reliant on Pork Fat Benefits self-reported habits, which aren’t always so accurate. When you have your sleep measured with an activity monitor, this procedure changes your natural and usual pattern of sleep.
The take home message – for most of us, sleeping less than 6 hours per night is likely not good for us. According to experts sleep…
– Reduces the amount of work your heart has to do, as both blood pressure and heart rate decrease at night.
– Sleep deprivation brings less variability in your heart rate, so the rate Type Of Medicine stays elevated, looking (and feeling) like high stress to the body.
– Sleep deprivation increases insulin resistance, upping your risk for developing both type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease.
– Insufficient sleep can increase C-reactive protein; released by the body during times of stress and inflammation. Should this number get too high it’s a risk for heart disease.
– Not getting enough sleep alters appetite regulation, encouraging you to eat more, or eat foods that aren’t so good for your heart.
Add all this to the troubles too little sleep gives us mentally and emotionally and you can see why getting the right amount of good, quality sleep is so important. After all, how you feel when you’re awake depends in good measure on how well you sleep each night. Practice good sleep habits and avoiding common enemies (caffeine, stimulation) of sleep to gain the most out of the benefits of sleep.