Heart Health and Sleeping – Why Your Heart Needs You to GET TO BED!
Since our younger years, ‘bedtime’ was always something that we wanted control over. As kids, we were constantly pushing to extend our waking hours, and as adults things flipped, and we found that there was never enough time for sleep! So, with this never-ending battle, we need to figure out whether sleep is worth the fight. Take a look at if your heart needs you to get some sleep.
What A (Heart) Healthy Sleep Looks Like
Years of research have found that there is a distinct pattern to our sleeping. Not just the hours that we find ourselves waking and going to bed, but a natural sleep cycle that influences our waking hours and can improve our well-being. When your head hits the pillow, these are the sleep cycle stages that your body/brain experiences:
- Light Sleep/Falling Asleep – Going in and out of sleep consciousness
- Sleeping – A deeper sleep than the first stage, but still not in the deepest sleep
- Deep Sleep Begins – Delta waves appear
- Very Deep Sleep – Delta waves are apparent and muscle activity is reduced
- REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep – Occurs 90 minutes into sleep, the brain is active (essential for learning and memory), dreams occur
If you are not giving yourself enough time to fall asleep at night or are not getting enough of those beautiful deep sleep zzz’s, then your body cannot achieve each of the sleep stages. When you don’t get the full cycle, your body suffers in a number of ways, including problems with your heart, mental health, attention, stress levels, and more!
How Much Sleep You Need
So how much sleep do you actually need to improve your heart health? Depending upon your age, you will need to adjust how much sleep you get each night! According to StartSleeping.org, the amount needed for each age group is as follows:
- Newborns – 14-17 hours
- Infant – 12-15 hours
- Toddler – 11-14 hours
- Preschool – 10-13 hours
- School Age – 9-11 hours
- Teenager – 8-10 hours
- Young Adult – 7-9 hours
- Adult – 7-9 hours
- Senior – 7-8 hours
Want to make sure you are getting a full night of rest? Using apps like Apple Health with the Apple Watch and Fitbits can track your sleep and movements to ensure that you are getting enough good sleep and provide you with solutions to improve!
How Are Heart Health and Sleeping Related?
When we don’t get enough of that restful, quality sleep, our heart health begins to suffer. Here’s how!
High Blood Pressure
If you have been tossing and turning all night, stressing about the project you have to complete for work, staring at your phone, or analyzing the conversation you had with your spouse… you’re missing the cycle. Because your body and mind are in a state of stress or unrest, you are more likely to experience difficulty getting to sleep. The more you stay in this state of unrest, the harder it is for your body to relax. In addition to an active mind, states of unrest mean that your heart rate and blood pressure are elevated. The longer you neglect a good night’s rest, the harder time your body has becoming rested, and the more likely you are to develop high blood pressure. It is a vicious cycle (and not the good sleep kind)!
Diabetes Type 2
In addition to poor sleep habits affecting your blood pressure and heart rate, studies have also shown that sleep is connected to the risk for diabetes type 2. The reason for this, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is because a lack of sleep interferes with your hormones, specifically:
“…with ongoing sleep loss, less insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar) is released in the body after you eat. Meanwhile, your body secretes more stress hormones (such as cortisol), which helps you stay awake but makes it harder for insulin to do its job effectively.”
The less sleep you have, the more glucose remains in your bloodstream, which means that you will therefore be at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
How to Get a Heart Healthy Sleep
One of the most frustrating things is lying awake, staring at the ceiling, hoping that darkness finally washes over you. But in order to get that amazing night’s sleep to help your heart, you may need to change your current sleep health! Take a look at the various methods that have been proven to increase the depth of sleep, ensure you fall asleep quicker, and feel fully relaxed!
- No screen time 1 hour before bed
- Pick a bedtime and stick to it
- Avoid caffeine after 4pm
- Avoid alcohol before bed
- Limit naps during the day
- Use a sound machine to help you fall asleep
- Choose a pillow and bedding to improve your sleep posture and comfort
- Use apps like Headspace or Calm to help you unwind
- Spend some time relaxing before bed (roughly 30 minutes)
- Take a bath/warm shower
- Read a book
- Listen to calm music
- Dim lights during the evening
- Use essential oils (lavender, peppermint, etc.)
So the Answer? YES!! If you are hoping to live a long and healthy life, improve your mental health, and have some AMAZING heart health then you NEED to get to bed.
Ready to get that perfect sleep so that you can improve your heart health and get the energy you need to carry on? Time to start focusing on GETTING TO BED so that you can reap the benefits of all that glorious sleep has to offer. Now hit the pillow, because it is bedtime!
Sleep Cycle Image Source: