It should be no surprise to anyone that 50 – 70 million Americans don’t get the restorative sleep they need. Just note the number of advertisements for mattresses, pillows, and mattress toppers we see everyday that all promise to deliver the perfect night’s sleep.
Quality sleep is essential for our health and well being, but new studies are even confirming that you can help your heart with a few extra hours of sleep.
Most adults between the age of 18 – 60 should get 7.5 – 9 hours of sleep per night. Sleeping too much can be just as detrimental as sleeping too little, and both can cause negative consequences.
If someone regularly sleeps for 9 hours a night, but wakes up multiple times, they are not getting the quality of deep sleep needed for optimal health. Doctors agree that those who suffer from sleep apnea and stop breathing for a few seconds many times during the night are among some of the most likely candidates to experience heart complications.
In short, the duration or quantity of sleep is less important than the quality.
If you are among those who “burn the candle at both ends”, it can be hard to find the down time needed to relax and sleep well. Our busy schedules often prevent us from unwinding, but we still need to be aware of how much better we can function during the day after getting the recommended hours of sleep each night.
Sleep, or the lack thereof, affects our performance, our mood, and overall health. Stress can affect everything, including our sleep. Do we find ourselves not sleeping because of the stress in our lives, or are we stressed because we are not sleeping well or enough? Whatever the answer, each person needs to find ways to improve their sleep quality and duration.
Scientists have known for some time that sleep affects our health and cognitive functions, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it affects other specific aspects of our health.
We have been aware that not getting proper sleep leads to low productivity and depleted energy levels, increases the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, and can lead to a weakened immune system. Getting too much sleep is also directly related to obesity, especially in women.
The newest study conducted by a university in Madrid, Spain, and Tufts University in Massachusetts has found a like between the quality of our sleep and increased plaque build up in our arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis and is a serious cardiovascular condition.
You can read about the full findings in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Treating and preventing cardiovascular disease includes maintaining a healthy balance between physical activity, diet, medications, and now sleep. Knowing that your heart health is affected by sleep should encourage us all to find ways to improve the quality and duration of the sleep we get each night.