The second month of the year might be known for Valentine’s Day, but it also honors the heart in a literal sense: February is also American Heart Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cardiovascular disease causes 1 in 3 deaths in the United States. Heart disease in women is especially concerning since it’s the number one killer of women. Suffice to say, developing heart-healthy habits is critical. Besides eating right and exercising, you should also get enough sleep. In the long term, sleep deprivation effects can be dangerous for your heart.
To raise awareness of this month, we break down how poor sleep impacts heart health and share ways for getting proper shut-eye. From SHEEX® Original Performance Bedding to comfortable sleepwear, we’re committed to helping you get the rest you deserve.
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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 are 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. They also believe that sleep deprivation may influence heart health via lifestyle behaviors such as diet and exercise.
Which Heart Conditions are Linked to Poor Sleep?
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?
Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night is one of the best ways to decrease your chances of developing heart disease. If you have trouble catching ZZZs, consider making these 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 Cooling Mattress Pads allow air to move freely around your body so that you can maintain your ideal sleep temperature. The same goes for your body temperature, so we also love soft and breathable sleepwear.
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, reading, and taking a bath are ways you can unwind at night.
Better sleep is just one set of SHEEX away! Upgrade your bedding to our temperature-regulating pillows, duvet covers, and more for the shut-eye of your dreams. All SHEEX fabrics are engineered with our SLEEP•FIT® Technology, which combines moisture-wicking capability with breathability to transfer heat 10x better than traditional cotton. This way, your body remains at its ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep that keeps your heart healthy.