You may have heard of Life’s Simple 7 to improve heart health. Well, now it’s called Life’s Essential 8, and sleep has been added to the list.
Since 2010, the American Heart Association (AHA) has outlined seven modifiable lifestyle factors – maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, being physically active, eating a healthy diet, and controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
These components became a common way for doctors to rate and discuss heart and brain health with patients, while also becoming a valuable research tool.
Now sleep duration has been added to the list, and some of the existing metrics have been revised.
The AHA suggests that adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal heart and brain health. They said that both too much and too little sleep are associated with heart disease and that poor sleep is linked to poor psychological health, which is another factor of heart disease. Sleep also affects the other metrics in the Essential 8.
There is a large body of work to suggest a close relationship between sleep and heart and brain health. Getting a good quality sleep each night can help your body recover, reduce stress, and promote better health.
Getting a good 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, however, can be much easier said than done for many people.
There are a number of things that can keep you awake. Stress, screens, bright lights, noise, and eating late can all make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, and develop a consistent sleep schedule.
Some things that can help you get a better, more consistent sleep include shutting down screens two hours before bed and setting aside some relaxation time to get your body ready for sleep, roughly 30-60 minutes before sleep. A warm bath, light reading, meditation, knitting, or writing about things you are thankful for can help.
Avoiding large meals or snacks in the evening can also help.
Creating a relaxing sleeping space and a consistent evening routine may help improve sleep and ultimately reduce the risk for heart disease, especially when added to a heart-healthy lifestyle.