Health & Wellness Articles

Sleeping Better for a Healthier Heart

A Good Night's Rest Can Boost Heart Health

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We all know how great a good night's rest feels. You wake up feeling refreshed, energized and ready to tackle your day. Unfortunately, this rested feeling is the exception and not the norm for many who live busy lives in the modern world, and it's hurting more than our energy levels—it's also harming our hearts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-quarter of the U.S. population report occasionally not getting enough sleep, while nearly 10% experience chronic insomnia.

Although it may feel like it, sleep isn't a passive activity, or a luxury for that matter. It's a must for your overall health and well-being and according numerous studies, it's essential for a healthy heart. According to the CDC and numerous studies, not getting enough sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. Together, these four health conditions prove a powerful case that sleep isn't just beneficial, it's vital.

Diabetes
You may think that type 2 diabetes is just about keeping your weight down and eating healthy foods, but research has found that sleep also plays an important role. According to a September 2010 study published in the Annals of Epidemiology journal, people who slept less than six hours a night were three times more likely to develop incident-impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG), a condition where your body isn't able to regulate glucose as efficiently as it should. How does this related to heart health? People with IFG have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and are at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Chronic Stress
Stress is another important factor when it comes to having a healthy heart. Other studies have shown that a lack of sleep can decrease glucose tolerance and increase the body's production of cortisol, a hormone produced in response to stress (plus we all know how hard it is to make healthy choices and lose weight when you're stressed!). Additionally, researchers have found that lack of sleep results in a 28% increase in average levels of ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone, leading to increased cravings and consumption of foods, making it even harder to prevent or control type 2 diabetes and therefore heart disease and stroke.

Cardiovascular Disease
There are numerous studies linking insufficient sleep with a number of cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure, stroke, coronary heart disease and irregular heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmias).
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • It would be nice if we all had jobs that allowed us to get enough sleep. Too bad we don't. - 7/4/2014 4:35:57 PM
  • I don't get enough rest from a night's sleep. I awaken about every hour, perhaps 1/2 hour. I do better if I take an arthritis Tylenol at bedtime. - 5/12/2014 6:02:59 AM
  • I sleep pretty good until my hip started to hurt me. I have alot of sleepless nights. - 5/9/2013 9:10:09 PM
  • My sleep has never been great. I went to my doctor and she sent me to a sleep specialist. After the sleep study they said I would benefit from a mouth guard, my dentist refers to it as a splint. I was leery about wearing a two piece hard plastic device in my mouth. After it was properly fitted, I adapted in about a week to having it in my mouth. My partner says I no longer snore. He was surprised how quiet I am at night. I sleep more deeply. My dreams are more vivid too. I 'm more rested in the morning. - 5/9/2013 8:44:09 PM
  • I joined the Spark Sleep Challenge to help me overcome insomnia. I deal with heart issues (palpitations often brought on in middle of night) and I'm considered pre-diabetes. i had no ideas that lack of sleep can elevate blood sugar levels. Going to redouble my efforts in week 2 to sleep for better health! - 12/17/2012 11:47:53 PM
  • CANUCKSFAN2
    For some strange reason I do need to watch TV before I go to sleep; I have tried not watching TV, but I find that I can't sleep unless I am dead tired and usually that means watching TV until I really can't stay awake. - 5/10/2012 11:27:42 AM
  • I've slept poorly all my life -- and have all the health issues mentioned above to prove it! Now I am paying attention to getting more sleep and I already feel better -- amazingly.
    One issue not mentioned in this article -- and a major culprit for me-- is LATE NIGHT EATING! It disrupts sleep! Eating lightly and earlier in the evening really helps me both get to sleep and stay asleep.
    I ate at night to stay awake. Therapy has helped me learn to relax, as well.
    - 5/10/2012 7:26:49 AM
  • Most people spend more money for the bedroom furniture than they do for the mattress they sleep on. I always think it is so important to have the best one, since you spend 1/3 of the time there. Also, buy a good pillow. - 8/16/2011 11:55:39 PM

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