Sleep Deprivation and Heart Disease: What’s the Connection?

The first Friday of every February is designated for National Wear Red Day®. On this day, people are encouraged to wear red clothing to raise awareness about heart disease in women, which is the number one killer of women in the United States, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). In support of this day, we take a look at the relationship between sleep and heart health and how poor sleep can have negative consequences.

Why Does Poor Sleep Increase the Risk of Heart Disease?

Unfortunately, there’s not enough research to provide a definite answer as to why sleep deprivation and other sleep problems are damaging to your heart health. Researchers do have a few theories, though.

For one, there have been several studies showing the link between sleep apnea and heart disease. Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which a person’s breathing repeatedly stops while asleep – typically five times per hour. When your breathing pauses for roughly 10 seconds, your brain releases adrenaline in reaction to this respiratory emergency. As a result, your blood pressure rises, your heart rate increases and inflammatory substances discharge in your system. Over time, this can damage blood vessels and lead to cardiac arrest. One study suggests that men with severe sleep apnea are 58% more susceptible to heart problems than men without sleep apnea. Furthermore, according to the American National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, sleep apnea might account for 38,000 cardiac-related deaths per year in the United States.

Researchers have also found an association between insomnia and heart failure. A Taiwanese study followed approximately 40,000 men and women with insomnia over 10 years and discovered a higher occurrence of strokes and other heart problems. Researchers theorize that sleep deprivation may increase inflammatory proteins linked to heart disease. Also, they believe sleep deprivation might influence heart health via lifestyle behaviors such as diet and exercise.

Which Heart Conditions are Linked to Poor Sleep?

Sleeping in Cooling Sheets

High Blood Pressure:

High blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease. As mentioned earlier, sleep apnea may contribute to high blood pressure, but sleep deprivation might be a cause, too. Normal sleep helps your body manage stress hormones and keep your nervous system healthy. If you regularly sleep less than seven hours per night, your body has a tougher time regulating those hormones, resulting in higher blood pressure.

Coronary Artery Disease:

Coronary artery disease – also known as coronary heart disease – is a serious condition caused by plaque buildup in your coronary arteries, which are the major blood vessels that supply oxygen and blood to your heart. According to a review of 15 medical studies by the European Heart Journal, people who suffer from sleep deprivation have a 48% increased risk of developing coronary artery disease. Another study from the University of Chicago discovered a link between sleep deprivation and increased coronary artery calcification, which is a good indicator of coronary artery disease.

Type 2 Diabetes:

With more than 30 million Americans affected by it, Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the nation. This condition causes sugar to build up in your bloodstream, ultimately impairing your blood vessels. In certain studies, sleep-deprived participants showed significant changes in hormone levels, autonomic nervous system activity, and glucose metabolism, which are all contributing factors to diabetes.

What Can I Do to Improve My Sleep?

Women doing crunches to help improve sleep quality

With all these heart-related issues surrounding poor sleep, getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night is the best way to decrease your chances of developing heart disease. If you have trouble catching some ZZZs, consider making a few lifestyle changes to improve your slumber:

  • Avoid alcohol, stimulants, and foods high in fat and sugar before bed
  • Put away your phone, tablet, or computer at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Keep your bedroom temperature cool. SHEEX¬Æ AirStream Max Quantum-Hybrid Cooling Mattress¬†allows air to move freely around your body to maintain your ideal sleep temperature.
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up the same time every day, even on the weekends.
  • Make sure to get enough exercise during the day.
  • Discover the best relaxation technique for you. Mediation, reading, and taking a bath are all great ways to unwind at night.

Upgrading your pillow or bedding to our temperature regulating and cooling sheets is another way you can achieve better sleep. All SHEEX fabrics are engineered with our SLEEP•FIT® Technology which combines moisture-wicking capabilities and breathes up to 10x better than traditional cotton, which allows your body to remain at its ideal sleep temperature throughout the night. Plus, our cooling sheets come in garnet red so that you can show your support for heart health year-round.