How To Achieve Better Heart Health Through Sleep

You may have already experienced the effects of not being able to have a good night’s sleep. You can’t stay focused on work, you feel sleepy while driving, you get cranky and irritable and your performance at the gym leaves a lot to be desired. Here’s another troubling effect of poor sleep: It can put your cardiovascular health in danger.

Sleep and heart health

According to the American Heart Association, having an irregular sleep pattern exposes you to health risks such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, obesity and .

If you are sleep-deprived, your body would have an excess of stress hormones that can cause inflammation, which many doctors believe to play a major role in cardiovascular disease. A shortened sleep duration is also linked with an increased risk of developing or dying from coronary heart disease.

If you exceed the normal hours of sleep, your heart health can also be at risk. Studies have found that people who spend nine or more hours asleep had more calcium buildup in the walls of the arteries of the heart. The arteries in their legs were also more stiff than others who slept an average of seven hours every night. Calcium deposits are an indicator of possible coronary artery disease. Long sleepers also have an increased risk of stroke.

Keeping your heart healthy through sleep

So what can you do to keep your cardiovascular system in good shape, sleep-wise? You need to get enough quality sleep. Here’s what medical experts recommend to do just that.

  1. Establish a nighttime routine that promotes a relaxing sleep.

A bedtime routine that relaxes your body and calms the mind can help you fall asleep more easily. A consistent routine may involve taking a shower before bed, giving yourself a massage, drinking chamomile tea, dimming the lights and making sure you’re in bed at the right time. You also need to ensure that you are should you have aches or pains to ensure you have maximum comfort.

It’s recommended to go to bed get up at the same time every day. This goes for weekends as well – yes, even if you don’t have school or work, you need to stick to your sleep-wake schedule. For adults, it’s best to sleep six to eight hours every night.

  1. Get enough exercise.

Physical activity doesn’t just benefit your heart and your waistline; it’s also great for helping you sleep. A study has found that 150 minutes of a week resulted in a 65 percent improvement in the quality of sleep. The study’s participants also reported feeling less sleepy during daytime.

The American Heart Association suggests doing 40 minutes of moderate to high-intensity aerobic exercises three to four times a week.

  1. Don’t hesitate to seek help.

If the cause of your sleeplessness is linked to , don’t be afraid to talk to your health care provider. Anxiety disorders, mild depression and stressful events can affect your ability to fall and stay asleep but there are effective and safe ways to make you more relaxed. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy and even acupuncture can help relieve stress.

Of course, the kind of treatment most suited for you would depend on what you’re experiencing, so seek a sleep specialist. If you’ve tried everything yet still have a hard time getting quality sleep, a formal sleep evaluation may be in order.

 

Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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