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How sleep affects heart health

How sleep affects heart health

How are you sleeping these days? Getting an adequate amount of sleep recharges your batteries for the coming day, ensuring that you have enough ‘gas in the tank’. But did you know that sleep can also be very important for cardiovascular health?

World Sleep Day

World Sleep Day takes place on Friday, 15th March, when sleep will be celebrated and awareness of issues surrounding sleep will be raised around the world. The fact is, sometimes our everyday habits have the effect of compromising our sleep. On World Sleep Day, many different aspects affecting sleep, and affected by sleep, will be discussed – from medicine to education and driving.

How much sleep is enough?

A series of studies into what the optimum number of hours sleep is per night have been conducted over the years. One of the latest research projects1 – published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology – found that anything less than a six hours sleep per night could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Other studies have concluded that the bracket of seven to nine hours is the ideal sleeping time we should be aiming for each night. Research2 published this year by the Duke-NUS Medical School found that splitting up sleeping times into a main sleep and an afternoon nap can actually contribute to better alertness and vigilance.

What sleep deprivation does?

If you aren’t regularly hitting six hours of sleep a night, you are risking a number of adverse effects on the brain and body. These can range from lack of concentration, a short temper, and a lack of focus, to more serious physical effects, such as an increased risk of diabetes, reduced sex drive and a decrease in fertility.

How does sleep deprivation affect the heart?

Perhaps the most concerning effect of sleep deprivation is its ability to affect heart health. In the short term, sleep deprivation is understood to contribute to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. There is also a link between not getting enough sleep and mechanisms that can lead to inflammation. Over the long term, all this can put additional strain on the heart, and lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems.

It should be noted that it isn’t only sleep disorders which are capable of adversely affecting cardiovascular health – consistently failing to get the required amount of sleep can be bad for the heart.
As part of your lifestyle modifications, pay attention to the amount of sleep you are getting.