How sleep affects your heart

December 30, 2019 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Hearts

Getting a good night’s rest plays an important role in your heart health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most adults need about seven hours of sleep. Yet, more than one in three Americans say they don’t get the recommended amount of sleep.

While skimping on sleep for a night or two may be OK, regularly getting too little — or too much — sleep can be problematic.

A recent study showed that those who got less than six hours or more than nine hours of sleep a night were at an increased risk for heart disease or stroke.

The study, which followed more than 450,000 adults ages 40 to 69, found otherwise healthy adults who got less than six hours of sleep a day had a 32 percent higher risk of heart attack or stroke.

Those with risk factors for heart disease or stroke had an 18 percent reduced risk for heart attack or stroke if they got regular sleep compared to those who got to little or too much sleep.

Another study suggested that napping once or twice a week can help reduce your risk for heart disease.

Some, but not too much, napping was healthier. Those who napped between five minutes to an hour once or twice a week were 48 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who napped daily.

If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, follow these tips from the American Heart Association (AHA) and CDC:

  • Exercise during the day. Exercise helps reduce the stress that keeps you up at night, but try not to exercise within a few hours of bedtime. Move your phone or other electronic devices away from your bed to reduce distraction and light that could interfere with your sleep.
  • Don’t eat or drink within a few hours of bedtime, especially foods high in sugar, fat or alcohol.
  • Try to stick to a set bedtime routine. An AHA study of 2,000 people found that those whose sleep times varied by more than 90 minutes day to day had double the risk for a heart attack or stroke.
  • Have a set morning routine. Having a regular wake time helps improve night sleep.

If you are having difficulty getting regular sleep, talk to your physician to see if other issues need to be addressed or if sleep aids would benefit you.

Your heart is in expert hands when you choose Edward-Elmhurst Heart Hospital for your cardiovascular care. Learn more.

Learn more about sleep disorders and sleep studies offered at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Learn more from Healthy Driven Chicago:

How much sleep do you really need?

Eight tips for better sleep

Common signs of sleep disorders

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