Of course, you need better sleep. But can you get too much of a good thing?
As is the answer with almost everything (outside of steps per day), yes you can. In fact, getting outside of sleep’s “sweet spot” could put your veins, and heart health, at risk.
A recent study looked at the effects of sleep time on arterial stiffness. They found that those who slept six hours less per night and those who were down for more than eight had significantly stiffer arteries than those who slept from 7–8 hours each night.
This might not be the first time you’ve heard that 7–8 hours per night is ideal, but it might be the first time you’ve heard it can influence the health of your veins. Your heart can have a really tough time pumping blood when your veins and arteries are stiff.
Artery and vein health play a big role in the risk of heart disease and stroke risk.
After accounting for known cardiovascular disease and stroke risk factors, people who slept less than 6 and more than 8 hours per night had a significantly higher odds of arterial plaque buildup.
Specifically, short-sleepers had their risk jump by 54% compared to sweep spot sleepers. Although not as bad, long-sleepers saw risk increase by 39%. This data indicates that when it comes to heart health, sleep may be as important as diet and exercise.
It’s not exactly clear why some people sleep for short durations and some for longer. Or even how sleep directly correlates to heart health. That said, sleep duration may be associated with other cardiovascular disease risk factors like diet, stress, and activity.
Whatever the case may be, a heart-healthy lifestyle might be the best way to improve sleep. In turn, better sleep may help fight arterial stiffness to improve blood flow.
Making time for activity and healthy food choices are the first steps to a healthy heart and have the potential to improve sleep. A well-balanced diet provides the nutrients you need to encourage sleep (like magnesium) and the production of sleep hormones.
Trying to establish a sleep and wake up time in the 7-8-hour range can help too.
Hitting sleep’s “sweet spot” could help take the pressure off of your veins and arteries, and potentially lead to several other health benefits. Take sleep seriously in your quest for a healthier life.