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Why Sleep Is Vital for Cardiovascular Health

Why Sleep Is Vital for Cardiovascular Health

More than a third of adults sleep less than the seven hours they need to refresh their body and maintain optimal health. 

Most adults are familiar with the loss of concentration, irritability, and fatigue they feel when they don’t get enough sleep. But most aren't aware that too little sleep has a serious impact on their heart health.

If you’re worried that your sleep habits might affect your heart, board-certified cardiologist Kishore K. Arcot, MD, at Memphis Vein Center can help. He offers on-site risk assessments and screenings, as well as exceptional cardiovascular care, including treating heart problems that arise from getting too little, or too much, sleep.

Lack of sleep promotes heart disease

While you sleep, your body recharges and recuperates from a long day of stress. During one stage of sleep, non-rapid eye movement (NREM), your heart slows down and blood pressure drops by about 10-20%, reducing the strain on your heart and allowing it to get the rest it needs to stay healthy.

If you don't get seven hours of quality sleep, you have a higher risk of developing the chronic health conditions that cause cardiovascular disease, including:

Long-term sleep deprivation increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. In fact, you have a 40-50% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease whether you get too little or too much sleep.

Too much sleep undermines your heart health

Studies show that getting too much sleep is nearly as bad as too little sleep. 

Excessive sleep increases your risk of coronary artery disease and your chance of a heart attack by 34%. What is too much sleep? Studies show that getting nine or more hours of sleep each night raises your risk of heart disease.

Sleep disorders disrupt cardiovascular health

Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and insomnia pose the same heart health risks as getting too little sleep. Insomnia makes it hard to get enough sleep, while OSA frequently disrupts your sleep throughout the night.

When you have OSA, you temporarily stop breathing anywhere from five to 30 times or more each night. Every time you temporarily stop breathing, your brain nudges you back to consciousness, which in turn interrupts your sleep cycle. As a result, you don't go through all the restorative sleep cycles.

OSA also has another effect on your cardiovascular health. When you stop breathing, your oxygen levels drop and several critical changes occur. 

Your blood vessels tighten, the pressure in your chest rises, and your heart works harder to pump blood. When you suddenly take a breath, blood surges into blood vessels that haven't yet relaxed and aren't prepared for the increased volume. 

All these changes place incredible stress on your heart and blood vessels. And this stress is made worse by the fact that it occurs at night, when your heart should relax.

OSA alone increases your risk of all the same conditions caused by getting less than 7-8 hours of sleep.

If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or palpitations (the sensation of a racing or irregular heart beat), call us at Memphis Vein Center or book an appointment online today at our Memphis, Tennessee, office.

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