Sleep: It’s the name of the game when it comes to staying healthy and happy. We’ve talked about how getting enough restful sleep is important for our immune system, but did you know it’s also an important factor for heart health? Curious about the connection? Read on!
Sleep, it turns out, is important for numerous bodily functions, including a healthy cardiovascular system. A study by Harvard University shows that insufficient sleep can negatively impact heart health in a number of ways, including increasing the risk of heart health issues. But this Harvard study is just one in a growing body of research showing a connection between sleep and heart health.
In fact, a recent study published in the JAHA (Journal of American Heart Association) explores the relationship between sleep patterns and heart health.The study found that individuals who stick to a regular sleep schedule have a lower risk of developing heart health issues compared to those who have irregular sleep patterns. The study also highlighted that getting sufficient sleep and adhering to a regular bedtime were associated with lower levels of inflammation and blood pressure, both of which are risk factors for cardiovascular issues. To be clear, “An off day or two is OK,” said Dr. Tianyi Huang, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a co-author of the study. “It’s more about the long-term pattern,” she said, as quoted in the NY Times.
So, what exactly are these sleep patterns and how do they affect our heart?
During sleep, our bodies go through various cycles of rest and activity, similar to the body’s 24 hour circadian rhythm, which helps to align our sleep-wake cycles with day and night. This sleep rhythm affects more than just our sleep — it actually affects other bodily functions, including blood pressure.
A disruption of this circadian BP rhythm has been reported to be associated with worsened cardiovascular health. That said, the underlying reasons for this were still unclear, as of 2021.So how can natural dips in blood pressure during sleep affect heart health?
The short answer: it’s the risk of what happens when we don’t allow our bodies to have those much-needed dips in BP. In other words, When we don’t get enough restful sleep, this ebb and flow process can be disrupted, and over time, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to more consistently elevated blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to some serious health complications.
Simply put, prioritizing restful sleep is essential for heart health. To achieve this, we should aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, maintain a regular sleep schedule, and create a relaxing sleep environment. If you have trouble sleeping, there are a number of strategies you can try, including avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, engaging in relaxing activities like reading or meditation before bed, and limiting exposure to screens in the hours leading up to sleep.
Making all of these changes at once is not easy, so it may be beneficial to start going to bed earlier each night, shutting down the screens, and putting down that ever-inspiring book.
Additional Tips for Healthy Sleep:
Many of us have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, but thankfully Youngevity offers health supplements that can help us ease right into a restful night’s sleep:
If concern, however, is related to your blood pressure, you may consider easing your mind by starting on a consistent regimen of the following nutritional supplements that help to support healthy blood pressure: