How Does Sleep Help Your Heart? What You Need to Know

While we all know that getting a good night’s sleep can be critical in helping you to feel mentally alert and ready to face the day, what many people do not realize is that sleep is also critical to their health. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that sleep can help to boost your immune system, improve your memory, and elevate your mood. However, what you may find most surprising is that sleep can even help improve heart health.

When you sleep, this allows your body to rest and recover from the day. If you do not get enough sleep, your risk of suffering from a heart attack, heart disease, or a stroke increases significantly (by as much as 48%). Thusly, whether you suffer from heart problems, or there is a history of heart disease in your family, it is critical that you get sufficient sleep in order to ensure that you are doing everything in your power to maintain a healthy body. To help you better understand the importance of sufficient sleep, here is an overview of everything you need to know about sleep and heart health.

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How Does Sleep Benefit The Heart?

As we mentioned before, scientists have been able to connect a chronic lack of sleep with an increased risk of heart disease. Yet, you may find yourself wondering why this is the case. How exactly does sleep benefit the heart? When you are sleep deprived, this raises the risk that you will suffer from health conditions that are associated with heart disease including:

High Blood Pressure
During the day, one’s blood pressure tends to be elevated due to physical activity, stress, and other external factors. Alternatively, when you sleep your blood pressure goes down significantly, giving your heart a chance to rest. However, when you do not get enough sleep, your heart is not given enough time to recover, which increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. Unfortunately, high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart disease, and it is extremely common with one in three Americans suffering from high blood pressure. With high blood pressure posing a significant threat to many Americans, making sure that you get enough sleep is a simple step that you can take to improve heart health.  

Increased Blood Sugar
In addition to improving blood pressure, sleep plays a critical role in helping your body to regulate blood sugar, which can be significant in helping to reduce your risk of developing, or helping you manage, type 2 diabetes. In fact, recent studies have found that sleep duration and quality can affect the levels of Hemoglobin A1c in the body, which is significant in blood sugar control. Without sufficient sleep, glucose levels in your blood are more likely to fluctuate significantly, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, or make diabetes more difficult to control. Since diabetes causes sugar to build up in your blood, which can damage blood vessels, people with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes are significantly more likely to suffer from heart disease. However, simply making sure that you get plenty of sleep each night can help your body better regulate blood sugar, significantly reducing this risk.    

Of course, it is no secret that there is a significant connection between obesity and heart disease. People who are overweight are much more likely to suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Yet, what you may not know is that sleep plays a significant role in weight control. Research has found that short sleep cycles result in metabolic changes that may be linked to obesity. Additionally, getting plenty of sleep can help to control appetite and cravings. 

When you are sleep-deprived, this messes with hormones in a section of your brain called the hypothalamus that regulates appetite and energy. With these hormones out of balance, your resistance to temptation goes down, and your cravings for unhealthy food increase. Compounding this problem is the fact that, when you are tired, you are less motivated to exercise. These factors combined significantly increase the risk of weight gain when you do not get enough sleep, which can leave you susceptible to developing heart disease. 

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How Much Sleep Do I Need?

As you can see, getting the proper amount of sleep each night can play a crucial role in helping to keep your heart healthy. Yet, you may find yourself wondering how much sleep is the right amount to improve heart health. While everyone has different theories as to how much sleep they need to get by, studies have shown that adults need to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night in order to maintain their physical and mental health. However, it is important to keep in mind that you can get too much of a good thing. Sleeping more than 9 hours a night can actually do more harm than good, potentially leading to calcium buildup in the heart’s arteries. You should then try to get an average of 8 hours of sleep each night for optimal heart health when combined with diet and exercise.   

How Good Sleep Boosts Your Immune System

How Can I Get More Sleep?

Unfortunately, recognizing that you need more sleep is one thing; actually getting 8 hours of sleep is another thing entirely, and it can be extremely difficult if you suffer from insomnia. If you find it difficult to get 8 hours of sleep a night, it is important that you talk to your doctor, as an underlying condition could be causing your insomnia. You can also improve the quality of your sleep by creating an ideal sleep space. In order to facilitate restful sleep, try to ensure that your bedroom is conducive to good sleep. Ideally, most people find that they sleep best in a dark, cool, and quiet room.

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Additionally, If you have been struggling to sleep, you may want to think about whether it is time to replace your mattress. If your mattress is old and uncomfortable, you may be surprised by how much a new mattress could improve your sleep quality. Feel free to contact us to learn how investing in a new, quality mattress could help you to get a good night’s sleep.   

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