Sweet Dreams

A good night’s sleep is something we all dream of… literally. Waking up feeling well-rested isn’t all that common though. According to the National Sleep Foundation, on 10% of Americans prioritize sleep over other parts of the day and only 37% actually get those 8 hours of Z’s.

There are a variety of reasons other than just not leaving enough time why people don’t get enough sleep. Stress, anxiety, and depression can certainly lead to issues with your sleep schedule. Likewise, poor sleep hygiene such as being woken up during the night from lights, noises, and electronics can do it. There are also several medical conditions that have signs and symptoms that prevent you from sleeping well such as sleep apnea (intermittently stopping breathing), nocturia (waking up to pee a lot), and paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (waking up feeling unable to breathe often from congestive heart failure).

Although sometimes getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done, there is a lot of research on its importance in heart disease. Research shows that poor sleeping habits cause an increased risk of having high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity. The connections likely have to do with changes in hormones and the autonomic nervous system. It’s proposed that if you’re tired from lack of sleep, your body uses stress hormones and the “fight or flight” – or sympathetic – nervous system in order to compensate. The side effect of this is high blood pressure, glucose dysregulation, increased appetite, and mood disturbances. Over time, these risk factors act the same way as they would if they were from any other cause when it comes to heart disease.

Alarm Clock, Heart Health, Sleep Disorder

These are all things associated with not sleeping enough, but there are also associations between heart disease and its risk factors with night-shift workers, over-sleeping, and fragmented sleeping. Did you know that people really do have different wake-sleep cycles though, called the circadian rhythm? The Circadian Sleep Disorders Network categorizes these sleep disorders into the following:

  • Delayed Sleep Phase – Your body clock is more of a night owl. Your natural circadian sleep cycle is later than most people and you naturally wake up later in the day.
  • Advanced Sleep Phase – Your body clock is that of a morning person. You’re early to bed and early to rise.
  • Shift Work Sleep Phase Type – Your body clock is forced to be awake when your body clock wants to be sleeping and vice versa.
  • Non-24 Type – Your body clock is more than just 24 hours. Your body wants to go to sleep later than the day previously each day that goes by, cycling around a 24-hour clock.
  • Irregular Sleep-Wake Type – You don’t sleep for very long, but you divide your sleep into 3 or more “sleep sessions” each day.

Regardless of what type of circadian rhythm you might have, it’s always good to listen to your body. Your work, family, and social lives are all competing for your attention, but don’t forget about bed time… it’s just as important for a healthy lifestyle! Nighty night!

 

If you have questions about your heart health, visit our website to contact us for more information.

Published by: Mark P. Abrams, MD

I'm an Internist, Educator, and Cardiology fellow in training. As the Director of Patient Engagement at Heartbeat Health, my goal is to make trustworthy information easily accessible and more available so that people can become more active members of their healthcare teams. By joining together, we can work toward keeping more people healthier, happier, and living longer fulfilling lives.

Categories Lifestyle, Risk FactorsLeave a comment

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