When it comes to heart health, most people think about diet and exercise. And while both of those are excellent supporters of a healthy heart there is one more thing that is often overlooked.
The amount of sleep we get each night directly affects our heart. A goal of 6-8 consecutive hours of sleep per night is ideal for optimal heart health. Too little (or too much) sleep can have negative impacts on the heart.
When we don’t get enough sleep our bodies go in to “fight or flight” mode and release stress hormones. These hormones raise blood pressure and increase heart rate, which put stress on the heart. Too little sleep doubles the risk of heart disease which can lead to heart attack or congestive heart failure.
Too much sleep increases the risk for depression and contributes to weight gain, both of which contribute to poor heart health. Too much sleep can also cause chest pain and coronary artery disease. Although numerous research studies reveal a link between oversleeping and poor heart health, there is still much to be discovered in the biological factors that negatively impact health.
Helpful Tips For Getting Adequate Sleep
Routine – The body thrives on routine and rhythm. Try to fall asleep at the same time (give or take 30 minutes at most) each night and wake at the same time each day.
Nutrition – Just as food affects our health, food also can affect our sleep. Sleep comes best to those who have diets rich in vegetables, grass-fed animal sources and healthy fats. Avoiding caffeine and chocolate, which are known stimulants, can help the online casino mind and body wind down and fall asleep easier. Also make sure that you are properly hydrated. Dehydration can increase stress on the body, making it harder to fall and stay asleep.
Environment – Make the bedroom a place only for relaxation and sleep. Move the television and computer out online casino of the room if you want to maximize your sleep cycles. A comfortable bed and temperatures between 65-70 F are must-haves for a good night’s rest. Equally important is making sure the room is dark when you turn in. Darkness triggers the release of melatonin, the “sleep hormone.”
Relax – About an hour before bedtime turn off the television and the computer and relax. Pray, read, sip a hot chamomile tea. Slowing down and unplugging will help the mind and body prepare for rest, allowing you to fall asleep faster and sleep sounder.
When You Can’t Fall Asleep
We all have times when falling asleep is hard or nearly impossible. Sometimes our bodies need a little encouragement in falling asleep. Here are some suggestions for when sleep doesn’t come easy.
- valerian (treats restlessness and anxiety)
- chamomile (alleviates sleeplessness)
- peppermint (calms nerves and stomachs)
Grandma was right about this one. It relaxes the body and nerves and can help induce sleep.
Some have success taking melatonin supplements for a time to help regulate sleep/wake patterns. Generally melatonin is recommended for those who are having a temporary disruption in their normal sleep patterns. It is not recommended for those who are stressed or anxious, or are suffering from depression. The factors have nothing to do with the body’s natural ability to make it’s own melatonin.
Foods like tart cherries, raspberries, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and strawberries increase melatonin production.
Sleep is more than resting our brains and recharging our bodies. The amount of sleep we get each night directly affects our heart. It’s something so simple but so vital to a full and vibrant life.
What helps you fall and stay asleep?
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