Too Little Sleep Linked with Heart Disease

There is nothing quite as rejuvenating as a good night’s sleep, not only does it recharge the body and mind, it plays an important role in health and wellness, especially in older age.  In fact, new research has found that sleeping less than five hours each night may increase the risk for a heart attack or stroke as much as smoking.   

According to a recent Business Insider report, regular sleep is critical for good health; and just as too little sleep can be detrimental, too much sleep is also associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.  Several new sleep studies were recently presented at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology which look closely at how sleep impacts brain health, safety, cardiac disease and cancer. 

To perform well during the day and reduce the risk for chronic health conditions, researchers found that adults should aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.  Between six and eight hours of sleep per night was found to be the ideal amount of shut-eye to help lower the risk for heart disease and stroke.  Waking up frequently during the night also was found to increase the risk for hardening of the arteries that leads to heart attack, aneurysm and stroke.

Recent studies have also linked a lack of sleep with inflammation leading to chronic illness as well as an increased risk for obesity.  But for many older adults, getting a solid six to eight hours of restful sleep can be elusive; many middle-aged and older adults find themselves waking after a few hours, getting up to use the bathroom or tossing and turning all night.  Practicing good sleep hygiene can help adults get the sleep they need for overall health and well-being.

Tips to Improve Sleep

  • Limit any daytime naps to 30 minutes
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine or nicotine close to bedtime
  • Limit alcohol to a moderate one drink for women and two for men. Too much can disrupt sleep.
  • Exercise during the day, but not right before bedtime.
  • Avoid heavy, fatty, spicy or acidic foods before bedtime than can cause heartburn.
  • Try to get regular exposure to natural light during the daytime to promote a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
  • Establish a bedtime routine.  Try a warm bath or reading and turn off screens an hour before bed.
  • Create a calming, dark, cool sleep environment free from distractions like cell phones, television, noise or light. 
  • Use a fan or white noise machine to help create a pleasant sleep environment.

Source:  National Sleep Foundation