Why Sleep is Important for a Healthy Heart
Cardiovascular disease responsible for nearly half of all mortality, nearly 80% of these deaths are caused by heart attacks and stroke. A number of studies have suggested a possible link between cardiovascular disease and poor sleep quality. However, a new study is the first population based study to directly examine the impact of poor sleep quality on the development of cardiovascular disease. Heart health is another reason why sleep is important.
A team of researchers from the Multinational Monitoring of trends and determinants in Cardiovascular disease (MONICA) studied more than 650 Russian men between the ages of 25 and 64 without a history of heart attack, stroke, or diabetes. The study was intended to examine the connection between sleep disturbance and cardiovascular disease.
Participants had their sleep evaluated using the Jenkins Sleep Scale. The scale determines sleep quality using a four item questionnaire that asks about problems falling asleep, frequency of nighttime awakenings, trouble staying asleep, and feelings of daytime fatigue. Those whose sleep was rated as poor, bad, or very bad were considered to have a sleep disorder.
The participants were followed for a period of 14 years. During that time, 63% of those who experienced a heart attack had also suffered from a sleep disorder.
Research On Why Sleep Is Important
Having a sleep disorder was associated with a heart attack risk more than double that of those without a sleep disorder. Stroke risk was as much as 4 times as high in those with a sleep disorder. Researchers concluded that sleep disorders are closely linked to the development of cardiovascular disease. Other risk factors, including being widowed or divorced, lower education levels, and manual labor, were cumulative. All of these factors were symptoms of social stress in the participants.
The results of the study were presented at EuroHeartCare 2015 by Russian Academy of Medical Sciences cardiology Professor Valery Gafarov.
Because heart attacks and strokes are such a common cause of mortality, it becomes vital to identify and prevent those factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Poor sleep quality needs to be treated as a modifiable risk factor, along with exercise, diet, and smoking, in the development of cardiovascular disease.
Professor Gafarov states that most people should get between 7 and 8 hours of quality sleep each night. Sleep disorders have also been associated with depression, hostility, and anxiety, and speaking to a psychologist could help. Getting a good night’s sleep can also reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Doctor Russell Leupker, MD, spokesman for the American Heart Association, is a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. Luepker expresses a suspicion that sleep-disordered breathing could be responsible for these findings. He points out that sleep-disordered breathing causes restlessness and disrupts sleep.
Stress and Why Sleep is Important
Stress disrupts the body’s normal cortisol production. It causes the adrenals to produce and secrete more cortisol, which in turn helps you cope with the stressful situation at hand. Elevated cortisol levels, especially during the night, keeps you awake because although you want to sleep, the cortisol and accompanying adrenalin produced and secreted keep you in fight or flight mode, i.e. a constant state of awareness. Ongoing stress thus has a debilitating effect on your sleep.
Addressing Your Body’s Cortisol Production
A good night’s rest is a great aid in getting your cortisol levels under control.
A Few Tips for a Good Night’s Rest
Besides diet and exercise, there are a few things you could try to make sure your sleeping environment is conducive for sleeping.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. It enhances melatonin production that is necessary for sleep.
- Always go to bed at the same time.
- Electro-magnetic -impulses disturb sleep. Remove all electric appliances from near your bed as they interfere with your sleep patterns.
- Do not exercise before bedtime as this increases your cortisol production, making you alert.
- Try not to watch television before going to bed. Shows that are violence orientated up your cortisol production.
- Stay away from food rich in sugar or caffeine before bedtime. Rather have a protein-rich snack.
- If all else fails, take a natural supplement that induces relaxation, such as a cup of chamomile tea.
Dr Lam’s View on Why Sleep is Important
Insomnia is a major symptom of those suffering from advanced Adrenal Fatigue. Frequently awakening in the night and missing a good night’s sleep is especially prominent in many. This is reflective of possible metabolic , neurotransmitter, and hormonal imbalance. Key hormones such as cortisol, when dysregulated at night, can lead to release of adrenaline due to the activation of the flight or fight response. This hormone in turn can trigger vasoconstriction and reduced blood flow to the coronary arteries. At the same time, heart rate variability increase can trigger palpitations and cardiac arrhythmias. Sudden death can result in severe cases. Overcoming insomnia requires a thorough understanding of the 24 hour biological rhythm and how it can be disrupted as adrenal fatigue progresses.
Source: Presented at EuroHeartCare June 2015