Being heart healthy is not just about frequent exercise and eating right. Namely, getting enough sleep is crucial too. In parallel, regular exercise, healthy diet, and low stress will promote the deep, restorative sleep that is beneficial for cardiovascular health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults between 18 to 65 needs to aim for at least seven hours of good quality sleep per night. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the Health claims that 50 to 70 million American adults have a sleeping disorder or don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis.
Further studies have found that poor quality of sleep or short sleep duration could be associated with elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. In addition, not getting enough restful sleep can also be correlated with:
- Weight gain / poor diet: A study from the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine of almost 500 participants found a relationship between poor sleep quality, increased food intake and lower consumption of whole grains. In addition, shorter sleep durations may also lead to weight gain, even for those with a low risk of obesity.
- Diabetes: Past studies analysis indicate that not getting enough shut eye will significantly increase risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (source: American Heart Association). Furthermore, forgoing as little as two hours of sleep per day might lead to increased insulin resistance and decreased glucose tolerance. In addition, high blood sugar related with diabetes may also increase blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, ultimately causing damage to the nerves and blood vessels.
- Inflammation: Lab studies have shown that sleep restriction is associated with inflammation, and preliminary research points out that this may be true in the general population.
If you are experiencing trouble sleeping, the CDC advises to:
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time everyday – including weekends
- Sleep in a dark, quiet place that is of a comfortable temperature
- Stop the use of electronic devices from the bedroom as these can interfere with sleep
- Stay away from alcohol, caffeine, and large meals before going to bed
- Exercise throughout the day as that will make it easier to fall asleep at night