Recent studies have found that people with irregular sleep patterns are at a higher risk of heart disease and cardiovascular events such as stroke, coronary heart disease and congestive heart failure. Irregular sleep patterns are defined as night-to-night differences in duration of sleep, as well as the times at which a person went to bed and woke up. Because many of us likely experience these irregularities, it’s important to understand the risk and take action.
In this study, researchers used monitoring devices to track the sleep of nearly 2,000 people for seven days each, then followed each participant for about four years. None of the participants had heart disease at the start of the study. But during that time, 95 people experienced heart disease, heart failure or stroke, sometimes fatal.
Related Read: How Does Stress Impact Heart Health?
Researchers found that people for whom time spent sleeping varied by more than two hours from night to night were 2.2 times more likely to suffer from some form of heart disease in the succeeding years. Those who had a varying bedtime of 90 minutes or more had double the heart disease risk.
So, how can we improve our sleep and, ultimately, our heart health?
Here are some suggestions:
Create a Bedtime Routine: Establish a relaxing pre-sleep routine, such as reading a book or taking a warm bath, to signal your body that it’s time to wind down.
Limit Screen Time Before Bed: Reduce mobile device usage and binge-watching before bedtime to avoid the disruptive effects of blue light on your sleep quality.
Incorporate Light Exercise: Engage in light exercises, such as a walk, yoga or stretching, during the day to help balance hormones and promote better sleep at night.
Create a Sleep-Friendly Bedroom: Make updates to your bedroom environment, like keeping it dark, cool, and quiet. Investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows can be worth it if they are causing any issues with your sleep habits.
Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Make an effort to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s internal clock.
Track Your Sleep: Using a smartwatch or keeping a sleep journal to monitor your sleep patterns can provide insights for improving your sleep schedule.
Limit Caffeine: Reduce or eliminate caffeine intake, especially before bedtime, as it can disrupt your ability to fall asleep.
By incorporating these practices into your daily routine and making some easy adjustments in your life, you can significantly improve the quality and duration of your sleep, leading to better heart health and decreasing your risk of heart disease.
If someone in your family or workplace were to suffer a cardiac arrest, are you prepared? Protect the hearts of those around you by taking a CPR/AED and first aid course. Sign up for a HeartCert CPR class.
This blog was originally published in 2019.
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