Why Sleep is Important for Heart Health
Susan Wynn, RRT, BSBA, MSM, Director of Respiratory Care and Sleep Services - April 24, 2019
Of all the reasons to get a good night's sleep, protecting your heart might not be the first that comes to mind. But maybe it should be.

Getting too little sleep can have serious consequences. Sleep deprivation may cause memory problems, a feeling of depression, a weakening of the immune system and an increased perception of pain. Additionally, several recent studies show links between chronically shortened sleep duration, defined as less than six hours of sleep, and increased risk of heart disease.

A chronic lack of sleep can impact your heart health in several ways:
  • Those who are chronically sleep-deprived show less variability in their heart rate. Instead of fluctuating normally, the heart rate usually stays elevated causing heightened stress.
  • Lack of sleep can increase insulin resistance, a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • Shortened sleep can increase C-reactive protein (CRP), which is released with stress and inflammation.
  • Shortened sleep interferes with appetite regulation, so you may end up eating more or eating foods that are less healthy for your heart.

How much sleep should you get to protect your heart?
The amount of sleep a person needs depends on many factors, including age. In general, most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, although some people may need as few as six hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day. That said, the best way to determine how much sleep you need is to pay attention to your body. If you feel drowsy during the day, especially during boring activities, you haven't had enough sleep and may want to consider modifying your sleep habits.

Bottom line?
It's safe to say that sleeping less than six hours a night is not in your best interests. If you have trouble sleeping, please visit us at Schneck Medical Center, where we provide expert care for sleep disorders and offer solutions to protect your heart and health.