A woman grasps chest while sitting on her bed

If you are dealing with sleep deprivation, you can feel the mental and physical strain on your body. Sleep affects every part of our being. It’s vital to our overall health and well-being.

Your cardiovascular system and heart rely on good sleep to function properly. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are important, but sleep has to be a factor as well. Our cardiovascular system is dependent on high-quality sleep. If we can get 7-9 hours of sleep consistently, our hearts perform more efficiently over a long period.

In a study on sleep duration and mortality, scientists found that low sleep duration is linked to three diseases that affect the heart: hypertension, coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus. Both men and women are susceptible to sleep-deprived cardiovascular events and illnesses. Men who slept less than 4 hrs were 2.8 times more likely to die of a heart condition within six years of men who reported 7-7.9 hours. In a study on female health professionals, subjects were 1.82 times more likely to get coronary heart disease if they slept less than five hours a night. Keep reading to learn more about the specific ways a lack of sleep can negatively affect your heart health.

Increased Risk of Heart Attack & Stroke

Research has found that sleep duration between 6-9 hours per night can reduce the risk of heart attack by 18% for people who have a “higher genetic chance” of developing heart disease. A lack of sleep over long periods of time correlates with heart attack and stroke. Sleep isn’t a luxury; it’s critical to sustain good heart health.

A Faster Heart Rate and Higher Blood Pressure

When someone experiences a lack of sleep, their sympathetic nervous system increases activity when it shouldn’t. The sympathetic nervous system affects your heart rate and blood pressure. Whenever your body experiences sleep deprivation, it causes your heart rate to increase and your blood pressure to be high.

Increased Risk of Developing Heart Disease

If you are dealing with insomnia, your chance for heart disease increases as well. The American College of Cardiology estimated 44% of cardiac patients have some form of insomnia. Other research shows people who experience sleep deprivation or insomnia symptoms have an 18% higher risk of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease. Seeking treatment for insomnia is vital for your health. It isn’t a nuisance; it’s detrimental to your heart health.

Increased Chances of Developing Diabetes

A lack of sleep can cause a decrease in insulin, glucose tolerance and appetite control, which results in diabetes. A test on a group of healthy volunteers found links to diabetes and sleep deprivation. After having a few days of healthy sleep, individuals had total sleep deprivation from 72-126 hours. They then received a glucose tolerance test and were found to be more intolerant of glucose than when they had regular rest. These trends towards diabetes cause more problems for your heart.

5 Tips to Help You Sleep Better at Night

While seeking medical help should be priority, here are some simple tips to help improve your quality of sleep and as a result your heart health:

  • Make sleep a priority. Career and social pressures make it challenging to find time for adequate sleep, but it is crucial to set aside time dedicated to your rest.
  • Set a nightly routine. If you are having difficulty falling asleep, creating a routine can help your body prepare for sleep. Putting all electronics away one hour before sleep can help increase melatonin levels.
  • Get exercise. Physical activity can help you fall asleep. Thirty minutes of moderate aerobic exercise can help your body prepare to fall asleep.
  • Talk with your primary care physician.
  • Contact a sleep specialist. Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) can help you to regain control of your sleep.

Are you having difficulty falling asleep? Contact us today to find out how CBTI can help get your good night’s sleep back.

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