Updated at: 27-02-2022 - By: Jane Brody

It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of the heart to overall well-being. As the heart pumps blood throughout the body, it ensures that all of the organs and tissues in the body receive the necessary amount of oxygen.

As a matter of fact, heart disease is the leading cause of mortality and sickness in America. Many people know that sleep deprivation is bad for the heart, but the risks of sleep deprivation are just beginning to be understood.

All areas of physical health are influenced by sleep, which allows the body to recuperate and refuel. Insufficient or fragmented sleep can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, and stroke if the cardiovascular system is not properly rested.

Because of this, a heart-healthy lifestyle may include getting enough sleep to help avoid cardiovascular damage and maintain the health of those who already have it.

Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Heart Health?

Sleeping disorders, such as sleep deprivation and fragmented sleep, have been shown to have a harmful impact on heart health.

The body needs time to rest and recuperate during sleep. Heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, and breathing stabilizes during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep stages. Reducing the heart’s workload during awake hours allows it to rest and repair itself.

People who don’t get enough sleep at night miss out on the heart-healthy deep stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. People who frequently have their sleep disrupted face the same issue.

Since chronic sleep deprivation has been related to a wide range of cardiovascular issues, including high blood pressure, heart attack and obesity to name a few.

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Sleep and Blood Pressure

Blood pressure decreases by 10 to 20 percent after a normal night’s sleep. Nighttime dipping has been linked to improved cardiovascular health in numerous studies.

Non-dipping, or a person’s blood pressure not dropping at night, is linked to poor sleep, including both sleep deprivation and sleep disruption. When it comes to overall hypertension, studies have shown that rising evening blood pressure is linked (high blood pressure).

Blood pressure readings at night are more predictive of heart disease than readings during the day, according to a new study. It has been linked to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. It’s also been related to kidney issues and decreased cerebral blood flow.

A rise in blood pressure throughout the day has been linked to sleep deprivation in numerous studies, but not everyone is affected in the same way. Middle-aged adults are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure because of a lack of sleep. Chronically inadequate sleep raises blood pressure more frequently in those who work long hours in high-stress occupations or have other risk factors for hypertension.

Sleep and Coronary Heart Disease

Deaths from coronary heart disease are the most common cause of death in America. Plaque builds up in the arteries, narrowing and stiffening them, causing atherosclerosis, also known as coronary artery disease. As a result, the heart’s ability to provide itself with blood and oxygen is diminished.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to atherosclerosis, according to studies. Plaque develops as a result of the immune system’s white blood cells accumulating in the arteries as a result of inflammation. Plaque and hardening of the arteries can be caused by a lack of sleep, which causes chronic inflammation.

The effects of sleep deprivation on blood pressure may also have an impact on the development of coronary heart disease in those who are sleep deprived. The arteries become less efficient at delivering blood to the heart as a result of hypertension, which in turn contributes to heart disease.

Sleep and Heart Failure

Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen. Over 400,000 participants were studied in an observational research that indicated a clear link between sleep disorders and heart failure.

Sleep deprivation was linked to an increased risk of heart failure in that study. People with other signs of poor sleep, such as insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, and a preference for the nighttime, had an increased risk of heart failure. The greater the number of these symptoms, the greater the risk of heart failure.

Sleep and Heart Attacks

Myocardial infarction, the medical term for a heart attack, occurs when the blood supply to the heart is cut off. Because of the damage to the heart that occurs when it does not receive enough oxygen, heart attacks can be fatal.

Heart attacks are more likely to occur when people are sleep deprived. Heart attacks were 20% more likely in persons who slept less than six hours a night, according to one study. REM sleep, on the other hand, is characterized by a high level of stress and activity. A person’s heart attack risk rises if these stages are disrupted by a lack of sleep.

Heart attacks have been connected to sleep disturbances as well. Because both heart rate and blood pressure can abruptly spike upon awakening, frequent sleep disruptions can cause cardiac stress and may induce a heart attack.

Sleep and Stroke

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, resulting in the death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen. When a blood clot or plaque stops an artery, an ischemic stroke occurs. An acute obstruction of blood flow to part of the brain occurs only briefly during a transient ischemic attack (TIA).

A lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of stroke in research studies. Stroke risk is increased by sleep loss, and high blood pressure is considered the primary risk factor for strokes. Insufficient sleep can also contribute to the formation of plaque in the arteries, increasing the risk of blockages and subsequent mini-strokes or strokes.

Sleep and Obesity

Hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke are all linked to obesity, as are many other cardiovascular and metabolic issues.

Obesity and sleep deprivation were discovered to be linked in previous studies. Obesity is more common in people with a BMI above 30 who sleep less than seven hours per night. When we don’t get enough sleep, our hunger hormones become out of balance, which can lead to overeating and a need for high-calorie foods.

Sleep and Type 2 Diabetes

The body’s inability to correctly metabolize sugar is the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes, which is characterized by abnormally high blood sugar levels, also known as blood glucose. Cardiovascular health is significantly impacted by high blood glucose levels. Diabetics have a two-fold risk of dying from heart disease or stroke compared to those without diabetes.

Sleep deprivation has been shown to worsen glucose metabolism, which is one of many factors affecting blood sugar levels. It has been found that sleep deprivation is linked to a condition known as prediabetes. A lack of quality sleep may make it more difficult for people with diabetes to keep a handle on their blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetics’ already-present artery hardening may be exacerbated by sleep deprivation.

Sleep and Heart Rate

In normal sleep, the heart rate decreases throughout the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stages of sleep and then increases as you approach waking up.

Poor sleep, such as sudden awakenings, may lead to an increase in heart rate. Researchers have observed that those who have trouble sleeping are more likely to report having an irregular pulse. Heart palpitations may result from a lack of sleep because of these causes.

Persons who have frequent nightmares are also more prone to experience an abnormal heartbeat, according to a recent study of elderly people. People who have nightmares may wake up feeling like their heart is pounding when their sleep is disrupted.

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Sleep and Chest Pain

There are numerous causes of chest pain. Angina is a type of chest pain caused by a lack of blood flow in the arteries. Heartburn or a muscular strain aren’t causes of non-cardiac chest pain.

Studies have found a link between sleep deprivation and chest discomfort when sleep is disrupted, resulting in an angina-inducing spike in heart rate and blood pressure.

Non-cardiac chest pain can also be linked to sleep. People who have heartburn or acid reflux are more likely to have sleep disturbances, which can lead to a worsening of their heartburn symptoms.

There is also a correlation between unexplained chest pain and poor sleep, according to numerous research. A substantial percentage of people with insomnia-like symptoms have recurring, unexplained chest pain. Sleep deprivation may have a direct correlation with stress and worry, as well as panic attacks, which may be more likely in those with poor sleep.

The role of mental health

If you suffer from a psychological ailment, you’re more likely to have sleep issues than the average population, and you may also be more prone to suffer from some mental illnesses if you don’t get enough sleep.

This could have a negative impact on one’s cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular disease is linked to everyday stress as well as stressful life events, according to numerous research. There is an increased risk of heart disease in people who are lonely, stressed out at work, prone to rage and aggression, or who are depressed or pessimistic.

People who have a positive outlook on life are more likely to sleep well and have a decreased chance of developing cardiovascular disease and dying from any cause.

Mental health and physical health are inextricably linked, as the American Heart Association noted in a recent scientific statement. It noted findings suggesting that addressing mental health can enhance heart health.

What’s the takeaway?

In terms of cardiovascular health, there is a strong link between mental and physical health.

By improving sleep, lifestyle factors such as nutrition and exercise can help minimize the risk of heart disease. One of the best kinds of feedback loops occurs when a person’s attitude and energy improve.

Sleep Disorders and Heart Health

Heart health suffers as a result of a large number of sleep disorders. Sleep deprivation is a typical side effect of insomnia, making it a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Overweight and obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure are all increased risks for people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). When a person’s airway becomes closed while they sleep, they experience pauses in breathing.

As a result of OSA-induced sleep fragmentation, the illness has been linked to a slew of cardiovascular issues. In addition, a lack of oxygen in the blood can exacerbate the negative effects of OSA on the heart.

In addition to restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder, irregular sleep movements have been associated to heart disease. It’s not clear what causes the aberrant activation of the cardiovascular system that happens in these situations, although it may be linked to a high and variable heart rate and blood pressure.

When a person’s internal clock is out of sync with the natural rhythms of day and night, they are more susceptible to cardiovascular disease. The risks of hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and cardiac events like a stroke or heart attack are all increased in persons who work night shifts and must sleep during the day.

Sleep and Heart Health During Pregnancy

It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to experience cardiovascular issues. Pregnant women are at risk of developing high blood pressure, which can have serious consequences for both the mother and her unborn child.

Many pregnant women suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome, all of which have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease during and after pregnancy. To reduce hypertension and other cardiovascular concerns, ongoing research projects are looking for ways to improve pregnant women’s sleep.

Sleeping Too Much and Heart Health

Many studies have revealed a link between excessive sleep, defined as sleeping more than nine hours a night, and cardiovascular disease.

A number of specialists believe that underlying health disorders that produce excessive sleep may also be to blame for this increased risk of heart disease. However, this research serves as a warning that extra sleep isn’t always a good thing.

Sleep for People With Heart Disease

People with cardiovascular issues should prioritize getting a good night’s sleep because sleep deprivation can affect the heart. Even adults who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease may benefit from better sleep, according to several studies.

Sleep deprivation is a common side effect of cardiac disease. The frequent urination caused by diabetes and other cardiovascular problems might make it difficult to sleep at night. Anxiety about one’s cardiovascular health can interfere with one’s ability to relax and sleep well.

It’s best to discuss heart-healthy sleep with your doctor because there are so many variables that can affect both your sleep and your cardiovascular health. If you’re having trouble sleeping, a doctor can work with you to design a personalized plan to help you get a better night’s rest and enhance your overall health.

Sleep Tips for People With Heart Problems

People with heart issues may find that following a few simple tips will help them sleep better, but there is no magic pill.

  • Relaxation techniques are essential if you want to get a good night’s sleep, but if you’re always thinking about your heart, it can keep you awake at night. People with pericarditis (inflammation around the heart), heart disease, or other heart disorders that cause chest pain can benefit from techniques like deep breathing, yoga, gentle stretching, and mindfulness meditation.
  • Keep to a regular bedtime routine: Maintaining a consistent bedtime and wake-up routine is usually regarded as one of the most effective strategies for promoting sound sleep beginning tonight.
  • Construct a sleep-friendly bedroom: Ensure that the room’s mattress and pillow are as comfy as possible, that the temperature is just right, and that there is as much darkness and silence as possible.
  • Alcohol and caffeine are both sleep disruptors, therefore they should be avoided at night if at all possible. Experts recommend that you avoid using electronic devices, including your cell phone, for at least an hour before going to bed to avoid disrupting your sleep habits.

It’s possible to improve your quality and quantity of slumber with the help of these and other sleep hygiene guidelines and techniques.

Why does bad sleep increase heart disease risk?

The specific cause of the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on cardiovascular health remains a mystery to researchers, despite several plausible hypotheses.

There is a link between long-term sleep deprivation and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including hypertension (a known risk factor), as well as increased levels of chemicals linked to inflammation. Higher levels of inflammation are prevalent in persons who have heart disease, even though it hasn’t been established that inflammation causes heart disease.

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How do sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnoea affect my heart?

People with sleep apnoea are more likely to suffer from heart disease, which leads doctors to believe there is a connection between sleep disorders and cardiovascular illness.

Sleep apnoea is characterized by brief pauses in breathing while one is asleep. Persons who experience these breathing pauses, which can occur up to 30 times an hour, are likely to become alert. As a result, it’s difficult to get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep apnoea has been linked to a variety of health problems, including hypertension, irregular heartbeats, coronary artery disease, and even heart failure in certain patients.

Approximately 38,000 people in the United States die each year from cardiovascular disease because of sleep apnoea, according to the American National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research (ANSDR).

Insomnia and an increased risk of heart disease are also being linked in an increasing number of research.

The good news is that sleep disorders may be treated, so if you’re having trouble sleeping, see your doctor.

How much sleep is best for my heart?

Unfortunately, there is disagreement among experts as to the appropriate number of hours of sleep.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends adults get at least seven hours of sleep per night for optimal health. The American Heart Association, on the other hand, recommends no more than seven or eight. The best amount of sleep for heart health is between six and eight hours per night, according to a study presented at the 2018 European Society of Cardiology meeting.

The ideal amount of sleep is between seven and eight hours.

How do heart conditions affect my sleep?

Of course, as anyone who has ever struggled with insomnia can attest, getting a good night’s sleep can be a lot easier said than done. The quality of your sleep may be impacted by a cardiac disease, but this is not always the case.

Getting a better night’s sleep is possible even if you cannot heal your cardiac issue.

Sleep disturbances following a heart attack are discussed in this article by psychologist Marie Young, who also offers advice on how to achieve a better night’s rest.

Will sleeping tablets affect my heart condition or my heart pills?

Pharmaceutical or complementary treatments may potentially be an option for those who are still having difficulty sleeping well.

If you have a heart condition or are considering using sleeping pills, be sure to let your doctor know about any existing conditions or treatments you are taking for your heart.

In some cases, prescription or over-the-counter sleeping drugs may interact with your cardiac medication. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before beginning any sleep aid drug.

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