Sleep Deprivation: How it Harms Your Heart

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The consequences of inadequate sleep can go beyond low energy levels and poor performance at work. Research suggests that it can also increase your risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease, regardless of your age, weight, level of physical activity, and smoking habits. Constant sleep deficit can take its toll on your cardiovascular health and endanger your heart.

Why you should be worried?

While lack of sleep may not be detrimental for a day or two, making this a habit can put your health at risk. Cardiology centers in Beaver note that chronic sleep deprivation can hinder your brain and your body systems from functioning properly, which then lowers your quality of life. It is also linked to a number of health problems and can aggravate certain medical conditions.

Some of the health conditions associated with lack of sleep include:

  • Weight gain or obesity – Insufficient sleep can cause you to consume more calories, which can then result in unwanted weight gain. It is also suggested that not getting enough sleep can affect the hormones that regulate appetite and hunger. It reduces leptin, the hormone that signifies that you have consumed enough calories.
  • Type 2 diabetes – Sleep affects some of the processes that keep your blood vessels and heart healthy, and this includes your blood sugar levels. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation is a significant risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, a condition that causes your blood sugar levels to become higher than normal and increases your risk of heart disease.
  • High blood pressure – Chronic sleep deficit can negatively affect your body’s ability to regulate stress hormones over time, which can contribute to high blood pressure. Sleep problems like sleep apnea can also increase your risk of the said condition, including heart issues.

Do you have sleep problems?

Waking up tired or feeling sleepy and tired by the day could mean that you have sleep apnea. This serious sleep disorder repeatedly interrupts your breathing during sleep. Without treatment, sleep apnea can contribute to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as raise your likelihood of heart attack and stroke.
Some signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring loudly
  • Snoring and stopping breathing during sleep
  • Waking up choking or gasping for breath
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Having insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
  • Experiencing daytime sleepiness or hypersomnia

As some of these symptoms occur during sleep, it is advisable to ask your partner if you engage in any of the things mentioned above, particularly snoring and stopping breathing during sleep.

How can you have better sleep?

woman listening to music outdoor
In general, adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Aim to hit this recommended amount to protect your heart and overall health. Here are some of the things you can do improve your sleep:

  • Sleep in a cool, quiet, and dark bedroom
  • Exercise in the morning, and avoid doing so within a few hours before going to sleep.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule, meaning going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
  • Get sufficient natural light, particularly in the morning
  • Avoid eating or drinking alcohol or sugar-laden foods within a few hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid artificial light or screen time a few hours before going to bed.
  • Get treated for sleep apnea or other sleep problems.

Don’t let sleep deprivation compromise your heart and overall health. Talk to your healthcare provider to find other ways of protecting your ticker and lowering your risk of heart disease.