Iowa Sleep Blog

How sleeping well can improve your heart health

Monday, February 22, 2016

While it might not seem obvious, keeping your heart healthy and sleeping the recommended amount each night go hand-in-hand. Besides the regular wellness benefits of a good night’s rest, sleep also helps strengthen your immune system, fights inflammation and keeps your heart and blood working smoothly.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women – more than 600,000 Americans die from it each year. If that doesn’t scare you, every 43 seconds in the U.S., someone suffers a heart attack. You’re at high-risk for a heart disease if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or frequently smoke, but you could also be at risk if you have diabetes, excessively use alcohol, are overweight, or practice a poor diet and are physically inactive.

Here are some other ways your heart benefits from sleeping well and sleeping at least the recommended 7-9 hours:

  • Your heart slows down – While we sleep, our blood pressure drops, because the body doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout the body.
  • You’re less stressed – When you’re less stressed, regardless of whether it’s good or bad, your heart works more efficiently. When you’re getting proper amounts of sleep, you’re allowing your body to regulate the hormone cortisol, making you feel less stressed.
  • The heart “cleans up” – Sleep naturally helps to lower your blood pressure so the body has time to clean up, very similar to what the brain does while we sleep, to make sure we will be operating smoothly for another day.
  • Lower your chance of stroke – By sleeping well at night, your body produces less of the hormone leptin, which controls hunger and satiety levels. When this level is off, you’re more likely to crave those high-fat, sugary foods.

February is American Heart Month, and sleeping well each night is just as important for your heart has diet and exercise. Sleep is how the body allows itself to reset, clean up and prepare for another day. When you’re not giving it enough time to do that, you’re not operating at your best. We’d encourage you to adapt good sleep habits, whether that’s making sure you get up at the same time every morning without hitting snooze, limiting caffeine after lunch, or turning off electronics at least an hour before bed. If you think something more than a lifestyle change might be hindering your ability to sleep, send us a question through our easy online form or schedule an appointment with one of our sleep doctors.

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