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Understanding How Sleep Impacts Your Heart

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Healthy man sleeping

When you think of a heart-healthy lifestyle, it is likely that diet and exercise come to mind first. Heart health and overall well-being also require restorative and restful sleep, which is commonly overlooked.

Sleep helps you function at your best. The CDC recommends that adults sleep at least seven hours per night. This amount allows your body to go through different stages to feel refreshed, make memories and learn new skills.

A wide range of health conditions are impacted by a lack of sleep. Too few hours, or poor quality increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports that 50 to 70 million Americans have sleep disorders. This includes sleep apnea, when breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep. Symptoms include loud snoring, gasping for air during sleep, and struggling to stay awake during the day, among others. It is important to visit your doctor if you have these symptoms to help prevent heart problems.

Insomnia is another common disorder that makes it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Many adults experience short-term insomnia during their life. Chronic insomnia that lasts for more than a month can take a toll on your heart and overall health. In many cases, adapting a few healthy habits can improve your insomnia, including the quantity and quality of your sleep.

Heart-Healthy Sleep Recommendations:

  • Establish a circadian rhythm. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Check for distractions. Get rid of bright lights and uncomfortable bedding.
  • Avoid large meals in the evenings and set limits on alcohol and caffeine. 
  • Stay active. Aim to workout earlier in the day and take walks outside for more natural light.
  • Set boundaries on technology. Limit your blue-light exposure by cutting back on screen time at least one hour before bed. Set an alarm to remind yourself to stop using your devices. Turn off notifications on phones and tablets that might wake you from sleeping.

A restful night of sleep is important to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle and prevent cardiovascular issues. Be sure to speak with your Queen’s health care team about any ongoing issues that are not resolved after establishing healthy sleep habits.  


1https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/sleep.htm

2https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/sleep/healthy_sleep_atglance.pdf

3https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/science/sleep-science-and-sleep-disorders

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