Want to Keep your Heart Healthy…get more sleep!

February is National Heart Health month, so while we are making a list of ways to keep our heart healthy, let’s start with sleep.

While you may not think that your heart and your sleep have much in common, they do work together. By not getting a sufficient amount of sleep each night, you could be increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), obesity, high blood pressure and other conditions.

Recently, a study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, found sleeping 7 or more hours each night increases overall heart health. The effect that poor sleep has on the body can increase the risk of developing CVD by 15% and increase the risk of developing Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) by 23%.

Also studied was not just the amount of sleep but the quality of sleep in each patient. Studies indicated that those who experience poor-quality sleep increase the risk of developing CVD by 65% and increase the risk of developing CHD by 85%

If you are not getting 7 hours of quality sleep each night, you may want to try a few of these techniques.

Steps to improve your sleep, from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Stick to the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual
  • Avoid napping, especially in the afternoon
  • Exercise daily
  • Evaluate your room
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • Use bright light to help manage your “circadian rhythms”
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening
  • Wind down. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading
  • If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired

If you feel that you need further help, contact your primary care physician and schedule a sleep study.