Lack of sleep can greatly increase your risk of a heart attack. Shocked? You shouldn’t be, as lack of sleep has been linked to a number of serious health problems. To fully understand this connection, let’s examine sleep and heart disease, along with ways to boost our health and reduce the risk.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that the lack of sleep is increasing the risk of heart disease. The WHO compares it to being as harmful as smoking and even prolonged sitting.
In the latest study, 657 men from Russia were observed closely to monitor their quality of sleep and their risk of heart disease. Over the course of 14 years, cases of heart attack and stroke were recorded from the participants.
The researchers uncovered that those men who reported incidences of sleep disorder had an increased risk of a heart attack – up to 2.6 times higher than those who had no sleeping problems.
Additionally, the risk of stroke increased fourfold in comparison to men without a sleep disorder.
Because heart disease, in particular, is one of the leading causes of death around the world, these findings are quite useful. Understanding the sleep and heart disease connection can then help us find means to improve heart health and reduce our risk of developing heart disease. Therefore, the take-home message here is, heart health starts with a solid good night’s rest.
Importance of sleep for good heart health
As previously mentioned, sleep is important for overall good health. A survey conducted between 1999 and 2004 revealed that 40 million Americans suffer from a variety of sleep disorders and most of them go undiagnosed. As you can see, sleeplessness is a large problem that needs to be addressed.
Before we reveal effective means of improving your sleep, let’s further explore how lack of sleep affects our health.
Below are some of the most prominent examples of what the lack of sleep can do to your health.
- Impaired brain activity, decreased brain clarity, memory fog
- Depleted energy
- Weakened immune system
- Increased risk of accidents
- Weight gain
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of angina and arrhythmias
- Increased risk of fluid in the lungs, which can lead to heart failure
As you can see, lack of sleep affects all major functions within the body, so improving the quality of sleep is vital for your overall wellbeing.
Tips to improve sleep for good heart health
With this study in mind, it’s important that we try getting the most and best kind of sleep possible.
Many factors may contribute to your lack of sleep, which can hurt your heart health, so pinpointing the underlying cause is the first step. Do you have a particular medical issue? Are you stressed? Are you on medications that may keep you awake at night? These are important questions to ask yourself when trying to improve your sleep.
Some fundamental recommendations for sleeping well involve reducing one’s stress levels, eating well (junk food can promote insomnia), staying physically active, and avoiding caffeine and other stimulants, of course. These tips can work to immediately improve your sleep.
If you avoid caffeine, exercise frequently, enjoy a healthy diet, and still can’t get to sleep, it may be time to speak with your doctor. They will be able to detect if you have an underlying condition that is preventing you from sleeping.
For example, some conditions like arthritis, an overactive bladder, and joint pain are all factors that could be keeping you awake. Furthermore, if you’re currently on certain medications, like steroids or hypertension medications, these, too, can prevent you from sleeping.
Even depression or other mental health disorders can prevent you from sleeping. Seeking out help for these conditions is important not only to treat the mental illness, but to achieve better sleep as well.
One thing to keep in mind when improving sleep is avoiding sleeping aids as much as possible. Not only do they cause side effects, like constipation, headache, and drowsiness, but they can have even more severe side effects like drug dependency, they can interact with medications you are currently on, and they can be toxic to your liver. With this in mind, it’s then important to try natural solutions for improving sleep.
Heart disease is preventable, and a good first step is to improve your sleep quality. With natural tips for sleeping better and other lifestyle factors – like eating well, exercising, and not smoking – you can successfully reduce your risk of heart disease.