Insomnia is now being linked to heart disease. Defined as the inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and the body not being refreshed upon waking, insomnia has long been known to cause problems during the day. Irritability, the inability to concentrate and noticeable poor memory are symptoms that are easy to detect. But less visible results can have an impact on the cardiovascular system.
For adults, sleeping too little is defined as getting less than seven hours of sleep per night. Over nine hours of sleep is too much. Both can cause irregularities in the cardiovascular system, including heart attack and atrial fibrillation, often referred to as AFib. The irregular heartbeat caused by AFib contributes to the possibility of stroke and heart disease if left untreated. Non-restful sleep increases the chances that atrial fibrillation will occur.
Exacerbating the impact of poor sleep on heart health isobstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which causes breathing to be interrupted during sleep. Sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke. Any prolonged sleep irregularities can be associated with cardiovascular issues.
Causes of insomnia
Some causes of insomnia are also considered contributors to heart disease. Stress, smoking and too much alcohol consumption are definitely on both lists of issues that can lead to insomnia and cardiovascular problems. Other reasons people may experience insomnia are health issues (including heart problems), certain prescribed medications, pain, caffeine late at night and eating too much before bedtime. Age may also contribute. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 39% of people age sixty-five and older say they are more likely to wake up at night, as opposed to 24% of 18-29-year-old adults.
Preventing insomnia also good for the heart
Among the methods of preventing insomnia are some common recommendations for good heart health. Regular exercise helps you sleep and it also helps your blood pressure, weight and cholesterol level. It should be noted that exercise can be detrimental to good sleep if done too close to bedtime, but an earlier regimen really helps. Exercise should be taken at least three hours before you try to go to sleep. Limiting daytime naps is another highly recommended way of encouraging sleep at night.
A proper diet is advantageous in sleep and cardiovascular health. Obesity is a common cause of sleep and heart issues. Watching what you eat and drink helps your general health, as well. High caffeine products include coffee and chocolate. Limiting your consumption of both, especially late in the day, will help you sleep. It will also help your weight and blood pressure. Nicotine is obviously bad for your heart, but it also serves as a stimulant that can keep you awake. That’s just one more good reason to stop smoking or using tobacco products, altogether.
Set a routine for sleep
In addition to proper diet and exercise each day, a consistent sleep routine will help prevent insomnia. Going to bed around the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning really helps the body know what to expect.
Not only can alcohol and caffeine stimulate your system when used late in the day, but activities not related to sleep keep you awake when done at the wrong time. At night when you are in bed about to go to sleep is not the time to deal with phone calls, work issues or to play computer games. Likewise, clear your mind of worries or stress-causing thoughts before slipping under the covers. Your environment should also be a help, not a hindrance, to peaceful sleep. Making sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep also helps prepare you for good rest. It should be clean, comfortable and as dark and as quiet as possible.
If you experience insomnia, notify your cardiologist. As more research is conducted regarding links between insomnia and cardiovascular issues, it is more important than ever to consider your sleep routine as part of your heart health plan.
To learn more about the relationship between insomnia and cardiovascular health, log on to vascularhealthclinics.org.