A happy and healthy heart leads to a healthy life. And for the heart to function as expected, it requires good sleep. Yes! Studies reveal that chronic sleep deprivation is directly related to increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Our sleep cycle is divided into stages – from light sleep to deep sleep and then back to light sleep. As our body readies itself to build up to the deep sleep stage, the heart rate and blood pressure is lowered. This is the time when our body rejuvenates itself by giving the organs, much-needed rest. The lowering of blood pressure and heart rate is necessary for the heart to function actively for the rest of the day. If by chance sleep is disturbed during this period, the restfulness is abruptly cut short.
Even inadequate sleep can be detrimental to cardiovascular health. Sleep deprivation does not give enough time for sleep stages to achieve their objective of regenerating your health as you sleep. Short sleep cycles caused due to acute and short term partial sleep deprivation also release increased CRP (C -reactive protein) that causes increased inflammation in the body. This may result in serious cardiovascular injury.
Apart from physical factors, some behavioural factors are also at play in affecting the smooth functioning of the heart. Continued sleeplessness or partial insomnia leads to stress and anxiety during the day. Accrued stress response and anxiety triggers excessive cortisol in the body. This hormone, also known as the stress hormone, directly links heart diseases to sleep problems.
When you sleep poorly, you are prone to feel sleepy the following day. Sleep debt accumulated over a period of time can induce a continued lethargic feeling resulting in lack of physical activity. On the contrary, regular exercise lowers cholesterol levels, regulates blood pressure and helps reduce risk of heart problems.
Follow a routine: Set the clock as per your bedtime and stick to it. Keep distractions such as phones, gadgets and late night T.V. shows away. Work towards getting a good, on-time sleep and take it just as seriously as any other habit.
Exercise: As we already know, physical activity of any kind is good for your body. Try to do cardio exercises at least 4 times a week or on alternate days. Cardio exercises such jogging, swimming, cycling or simple walking increases your heart rate and ensures proper functioning of the heart.
Ask a sleep expert: If you still think you are facing issues while sleeping and are worried you may be prone to heart problems, consult a sleep doctor. Together, you may be able to figure out what exactly is keeping you awake at night.
These simple tips will surely bring relief to your sleep schedule and put all your worries about heart diseases at bay. Let us pledge to take care of ourselves by first taking care of the most important organ of our body – the heart!