Do you get the requisite 7-9 hours of sleep each night? And is it quality sleep? If you answered no to either of these questions, you could be setting yourself up for heart problems down the road.
If you need help with sleep problems or heart issues, Madhav Devani, MD, of Ross Bridge Medical Center in Hoover, Alabama, can help. Here’s what he wants you to know about the link between sleep and heart health.
How sleep affects heart health
If you don’t sleep well, your quality of life may suffer. You may fall asleep at your desk at work or school, and you may be cranky. The smallest things at work may set you off, and a busy family routine may feel overwhelming. If all of this isn’t enough, a lack of quality sleep may have a negative effect on your heart health.
Researchers aren’t entirely sure why sleep affects heart health, but they do know that if someone doesn’t sleep well, it can interfere with their body’s ability to restore and repair itself. Their body may stay in a state of inflammation, their blood pressure may rise, and their body may not be able to metabolize glucose well, which could lead to diabetes. All of these factors can increase the risk of developing serious heart problems over time.
Sleep disorders that affect heart health
If you have trouble sleeping, your risk of developing cardiovascular and other issues — such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and obesity — goes up. Two conditions that are often at the heart of sleep problems are insomnia and sleep apnea.
If you have insomnia, you may find it hard to get to sleep or stay asleep, or you may wake up early and find it difficult to get back to sleep.
There are three kinds of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex sleep apnea. With obstructive sleep apnea, soft tissues in your mouth or throat cut off your breathing, waking you momentarily so you can breathe. With central sleep apnea, your brain doesn’t send the right signals to instruct you to breathe. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of the two.
If you have trouble sleeping, Dr. Devani can give you a thorough exam and see if you have either of these conditions or any others. If you do, he can help you with the next steps.
Tips for sleeping better
Following these tips may help you get restful sleep and improve your quality of life:
- Go to bed at the same time each night
- Wake up at the same time each day
- Get out for a morning or lunchtime walk to get natural sunlight
- Exercise regularly but not too close to bedtime
- Don’t sleep with your pets if they’re disruptive at night
- Keep the bedroom temperature on the cooler side
- Use a fan for air circulation or have some soothing white noise in the background
- Listen to soothing music to help you drift asleep
- Experiment with essential oils, such as lavender, which may have a calming effect
- Do gentle yoga, stretching, or meditation as you unwind before bed
- Limit your exposure to screens — such as TVs and phones — a few hours before bed
- Don’t eat or drink too close to bedtime, and limit alcohol consumption
- Watch your caffeine intake from coffee, tea, and soda starting in the afternoon
If you’re having trouble sleeping, Dr. Devani can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Ross Bridge Medical Center today.