Getting enough sleep plays a large role in heart health and is frequently overlooked and under prioritized; studies show that 50 to 70 million American adults are living with a sleeping disorder or not getting regular sleep.1
Various conditions can make it difficult to get the recommended six to eight hours of sleep. From insomnia and sleep apnea to mental health factors and lifestyle demands, there are barriers that prevent many people from a full night’s rest. Ideally, adults need at least seven hours of sleep per night. However, only 1 in 3 Americans reports getting that amount.2
How sleep impacts heart health
In addition to feeling lethargic or irritable, habitual lack of restful sleep is strongly correlated with various conditions that impact heart health:
- Weight gain
Lack of restful sleep can cause a slower metabolism and is also correlated with poor diet. Studies show a connection between increased food intake and poor sleep.3
Some studies show that sleep helps your body regulate your blood sugar. When that important regulation can’t take place, it may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure
Sleep is an important time of rest when your blood pressure can decrease for a period of time. Without that rest, your blood pressure remains higher for longer, adding strain to the heart and contributing to risk of heart disease and stroke.2
Even a few hours of sleep deprivation can send signals through your body that cause your immune system to turn against healthy cells. This process leads to inflammation in the body and can cause heart disease as well as autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.4
- Heart disease and arrhythmias
Common sleeping disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome are associated with heart issues like arrhythmias, heart failure, and heart disease.1 If you have snoring or excessive sleepiness during the day, check with your doctor as to whether you should be evaluated for obstructive sleep apnea, as treatment may reduce your risk for heart disease and arrhythmias.