If you want to avoid cardiovascular disease, a good place to start is by getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. As it turns out, sleep is a leading predictor of a healthy cardiovascular system. More specifically, Stanford Health Care notes that sleep disturbances are linked to cardiovascular disease in 13 to 42 percent of patients studied. Learn exactly how a lack of sleep and cardiovascular disease are associated.
Physical Changes Due to Sleep Disturbances
When you aren’t getting enough quality sleep due to disturbances such as sleep apnea or insomnia, you will see physical effects:
- You will have an increased blood pressure that is directly associated with cardiovascular disease.
- Your appetite will change dramatically. This can be associated with overeating, eating at odd hours, or eating foods high in sugar and fat to compensate for a lack of energy. When you are eating a diet high in calories and fat, this can lead to obesity, which places a serious strain on your heart and arteries.
- You could be looking at an increased buildup of plague in your arteries if you are choosing foods that are high in cholesterol.
- Lack of sleep can also cause inflammation. This inflammation is caused when your body isn’t able to flush out toxins and free radicals, a process it takes care of when you are sleeping. The more that these toxins run rampant in your body, the more inflammation you’ll experience throughout your systems.
According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, inflammation creates an unnecessary strain on your immune system that is constantly battling the inflammation. Therefore, you are physically unable to fight back against heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions. You are also more apt to get stressed out, while being unable to cope with the effects of stress. For someone who’s concerned about cardiovascular disease, this is a big deal. Stress leads to hardened plague in arteries, increased cortisol in the stomach, and excess fat around your internal organs. All of these issues lead to the worst of all — cardiovascular disease.
Behavioral Issues Caused by Lack of Sleep
As you experience all of these physical changes that can happen when you aren’t getting enough sleep, there are behavioral issues as well, as reported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Most people can tell that they are cranky and more easily stressed out when they are tired. However, when you are chronically tired, you begin to lose sight of what it feels like to be well rested. As a result, you tend to let bad moods, decreased motivation, and difficulty in thinking to become your new attitude.
These negative actions can lead to depression, which is a sinker for someone who’s at risk for cardiovascular disease. When you are depressed, you are less likely to eat healthy, get regular exercise and be social. This will take you right back to all of those physical problems associated with a lack of healthy sleep and cardiovascular disease. It becomes a vicious cycle. In the long run, your body will have a harder time combating the cardiovascular disease that may have resulted from not getting your zzz’s on a regular basis.
Battling Cardiovascular Disease with Healthy Sleep
If you want to avoid the silent killer of cardiovascular disease, make sure to get healthy sleep. This means getting 7 to 9 hours, on average for a healthy and active adult, per night. You also want to sleep soundly without disturbances. So forget going to sleep with the TV or radio on. Also make sure your mattress is accommodating for your sleep type.
Finally, create a healthy sleeping environment by preparing for bedtime with a nightly ritual. This may mean taking a warm shower or using essential oils for relaxation. In the end, remember that for every night you sleep well, you are giving your body a boost against cardiovascular disease.