The Importance Of Sleep For Your Heart Health

Melanie Thomassian Health Pro
  • It's wonderful to wake up after a great night's rest, isn't it? You feel so much more energized, refreshed, and ready for the day ahead.


    Unfortunately, many of us aren't getting the required amount of sleep due to our busy lives, or simply as a result of bad habits.


    The CDC state that more than one-quarter of the U.S. population report occasionally not getting enough sleep. 


    Unfortunately, this could be hurting more than your energy levels, and although you may feel like sleep is a luxury you cannot afford right now, it is an absolute must for your overall health and well-being, and it is essential for a healthy heart.

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    Here are just some of the health conditions which are related to poor sleep habits and your heart health.



    A study published in the Annals of Epidemiology, found that those who slept less than six hours each night, were three times more likely to develop impaired fasting glucose (IFG), where the body can't regulate glucose as efficiently as it should. 


    Those with IFG have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and are at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. 


    Cardiovascular Disease 

    Another study published in the European Heart Journal, noted that sleeping less than six hours each night led to a 48 percent greater chance of developing, or dying from, heart disease, and a 15 percent greater chance of having a stroke. 


    However, a study published in JAMA found that when sleep deprived people got just one extra hour of sleep each night, they had a 33 percent decrease in their risk of developing calcium deposits in the arteries. Calcium deposits can increase someone's risk for heart disease. 



    There is also an association between short sleep duration and excess body weight. More specifically, ghrelin and cortisol are effected when you don't get enough sleep, which can lead to an increase in appetite, resulting in overeating and weight problems.


    And, being overweight puts additional strain on the body, especially the heart.


    So, what can you do to get more benefit from your sleep each night?


    1. Focus On Quality

    Aim to sleep 7 to 9 hours each night, and if possible, try to sleep the whole night through, without waking multiple times.


    The Nurses’ Health Study found that sleeping five or fewer hours each night increases the risk of coronary disease by 45 percent. Also, those who regularly slept nine or more hours had a 38 percent greater risk, compared to those who slept eight hours each night.


    2. Create A Routine

    It's best if you go to bed and get up at the same time each day, because this helps your body to function optimally. If you find it difficult to fall asleep, avoid watching TV at least one hour prior to bed, and try to unwind and relax another way.


    If you find you just can't get over to sleep, get out of bed and do something else for a short time, then try again. Laying awake, tossing and turning is the worst thing you can do. Also, a morning or afternoon workout can help you to fall asleep easier later on.


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    3. Take Care With Diet

    Remember, alcohol and caffeinated drinks can have a negative effect on your sleep quality. So, try to limit your intake of these, particularly in the late evening.


    It is also important to avoid eating large meals close to bedtime, as this may lead to difficultly sleeping, or poorer quality sleep.


    What tips can you share for getting a better nights sleep?


    Melanie Thomassian is a registered dietitian, health writer, busy wife, and mum. Her goal is to promote good health and better lifestyles in the online community. For more healthy eating tips, check out her blog.

Published On: November 29, 2011