If you spent a night recently tossing and turning, you know that not getting enough sleep can affect your mood the next day. But beyond making you grouchy, a persistent lack of sleep can negatively impact nearly every aspect of your health and wellness, including your heart health.
While you probably know that to protect your heart you should exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and not smoke, it’s every bit as important to prioritize getting enough sleep on a consistent basis.
Why Not Getting Enough Sleep Affects Your Heart Health
Sleep deficiency can wreak havoc on your health—for good reason. Sleep is when your body and mind have a chance to reset and restore.
When you sleep, your body goes through two main phases: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. During REM sleep, your mind is active and you dream. During NREM, though, your body functions slow down.
During NREM phases, your heart rate slows, your blood pressure drops and your heart is less stressed. So when you don’t get enough sleep, your heart doesn’t get enough of that valuable NREM time.
Over time, sleep deprivation can increase your risk of high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
How Much Sleep You Need to Protect Your Heart
So, now you know you need sleep, but how much sleep do you need? While the amount of sleep you need varies somewhat from person to person, there are some general recommendations.
Experts recommend that most adults aim for between seven and nine hours of quality sleep each night. Adults older than age 65 may get by with slightly less, aiming for up to eight hours.
Tips for Getting the Sleep You Need
Make your heart health a priority by making quality sleep a priority. If your sleep could use a boost, these tips may help:
- Make the bedroom cool and dark for optimal sleep.
- Keep electronics out of the bedroom—or at least limit their use in the hour before bedtime.
- Set and stick with a consistent bedtime and wake-time, even on weekends.
- Establish a calming bedtime routine with activities such as reading, bathing or meditating.
- Avoid exercising within two to three hours of bedtime, but do exercise regularly to promote good sleep.
- Limit caffeine intake beginning mid-afternoon.