Recent findings from the Journal of the American Heart Association show that poor sleep or not enough sleep can lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis. This research underscores data from other sleep-and-heart studies. In a randomized controlled study, researchers found that when healthy young people were deprived of sleep, their blood pressure went up both during the daytime and when they were asleep. Additionally, in a separate study, participants who did not get enough sleep ate an extra 308 calories per day, and the calories went to the dangerous type of fat deep in the abdomen that produces toxins that can make our cardiovascular systems sick.
If getting more sleep is not a realistic option for you, prioritize other heart-healthy habits like exercise or eating healthy foods. If you are having trouble sleeping, consider if you have obstructive sleep apnea, and speak to your doctor. If you don’t have sleep apnea, you can try to make your sleep environment more restful and peaceful. However, it is important to note that sleep is not the only factor in heart health: the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8 guidelines also include eating better, exercising, quitting smoking, managing your weight, and controlling your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.