According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. The known risk factors for heart disease are smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise. But now, there is a growing recognition that sleep deprivation can be a risk factor for heart disease. According to the Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep can negatively impact your blood pressure and increase your risk for heart failure and heart attacks.
Sleep Deprivation and Blood Pressure
Nocturnal dipping occurs during normal healthy sleep. In nocturnal dipping, a person’s blood pressure drops by 10-20%. According to the Sleep Foundation, this blood pressure drop allows the heart to relax and recover from the stress that occurred during waking hours. If a person’s blood pressure doesn’t go down at night, this is called non-dipping. Non-dipping increases your risk for high blood pressure.
Sleep Deprivation and Heart Failure
There is a strong association between sleep deprivation and heart failure. According to the Sleep Foundation, heart failure is common with people who have symptoms of insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and snoring. The Sleep Foundation also states that people who sleep less than seven hours a day are at an increased risk for heart disease.
Sleep Deprivation and Heart Attacks
According to the Sleep Foundation, people who sleep less than six hours per night are at a 20% higher risk for heart attacks. Sleeping less than six hours a day can cause an imbalance in your sleep stages. During the NREM sleep stage, your heart and blood pressure go down but during REM sleep your heart rate and blood pressure go up. According to the Sleep Foundation, if an imbalance occurs in these stages due to sleep deprivation, you are at an increased risk for heart attacks. The Sleep Foundation also states that sleep interruptions can also increase your risk for heart attacks. Interruptions in your sleep can cause abrupt spikes in your heart rate and blood pressure, which can cause a heart attack.
How To Improve Your Sleep Deprivation
Sleep is essential for your heart. Here at FCCI, we understand how crucial sleep is for our patients’ heart health. We have a sleep lab dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders and our two board certified doctors have dedicated their lives to restoring a healthy night’s sleep for their patients. If you are experiencing sleep deprivation or symptoms of a sleep disorder, we strongly recommend communicating with your doctor and learning how to improve your sleep deprivation.