The Link Between Sleep And Heart Health

If you are one of those people who tosses and turns in bed every night, you already know how a lack of sleep can affect your quality of life and productivity levels.

Unfortunately, the ramifications of not sleeping well extend far beyond struggling to get out of bed in the morning.

There are now several studies indicating that sleep deficiency may be linked with heart disease.

This article will take a closer look at what happens when we sleep and why researchers think a lack of sleep is linked with heart disease.

Why is sleep important for good health?

The human body uses the time you spend sleeping to maintain your physical and mental health.

Some of the processes that occur when you go to sleep include:

The brain undergoes significant changes

While you sleep, your brain will be creating new pathways that you helps you learn and remember information.

Getting a good night’s sleep will help you make decisions, memorise information, solve problems and learn new things each day.

If a sufficient amount of sleep is not achieved, brain activity will change, slowing cognitive function and making it more difficult to think.

Sleep deficiency can also increase feelings of anxiety, depression, and risk-taking behaviour.

The body heals and removes waste

Although you aren’t moving much while sleeping, the body is quite active.

It will repair tissue, remove waste, produce hormones, digest food, restore energy reserves, and manage blood sugar levels.

The immune system will also use the time you spend sleeping to replenish itself.

Failing to get enough sleep can throw the body’s systems out of whack — increasing the risk of various health problems including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and respiratory diseases.

Sleep and heart disease

Researchers discovered that were was a connection between sleep and cardiac health many years ago.

They found that a lack of sleep changed how the heart functions.

Inadequate sleep leads to elevated blood pressure and an increased heart rate.

This effect may be one of the root causes of the link between sleep and heart disease.

The reason why a person’s heart rate and blood pressure might change from insufficient sleep is related to the biological processes that occur during sleep.

If the body does not have the chance to rest and recuperate during sleep, it causes imbalanced glucose metabolism and inflammation, which can affect the cardiovascular system and increase the risk of heart disease.

Another possible factor relates to how the heart operates during sleep.

When a person is goes to sleep, the body releases chemicals that slow their heart rate and reduce blood pressure.

If a person continues to wake up during the night, their heart will work harder.

Multiple research projects in the past decade have found that the link between sleep and heart disease is surprisingly strong.

A paper published in the European Heart Journal in 2011 reviewed 15 major medical studies involving 475,000 people.

The authors of the paper found that short sleepers have a 48% greater chance of dying from coronary heart disease and a 15% greater chance of dying from stroke in the seven to 25-year follow up period.

A 2008 study found that a lack of sleep led to an increase in coronary artery calcification, which can lead to coronary artery disease.

The same study confirmed that a lack of sleep leads to an increase in a person’s blood pressure.

Researchers have found that people with sleep apnea are most at risk of developing sleep-related heart disease.

One study found that over an 8-year period, men with sleep apnea were 58% more likely to develop congestive heart failure compared to men without the condition.

How much sleep is enough?

Now that you have heard about the link between sleep deficiency and heart disease, you may be wondering — how much sleep do I really need?

The amount of sleep you require will change over the course of your life.

The recommended amount of sleep for an adult is between 7 to 8 hours each day.

Teenagers should get between 8 to 10 hours per day because their bodies are growing at a rapid rate.

Children between the ages of 6 and 12 need approximately 9 to 12 hours per day.

Infants are sleepaholics and should be napping for between 12 to 16 hours per day.

Thanks for reading The Link Between Sleep And Heart Health.

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author: Stephen Coleclough

Stephen Coleclough is a leading international and domestic tax consultant who specialises in solving complex problems. As well as advising on tax matters, Stephen also enjoys exploring topics relating to physical and mental wellbeing. You can follow him on Twitter at SColeclough.


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