Many of our tips for improving heart health are about getting active regularly, from adopting a dog that you can walk each day to practising yoga, joining a dance class, or taking upcycling. But did you know your heart needs a good night’s sleep too? Here are some insights into how sleep affects heart health and why you should snuggle up in bed for a good 8 hours of rest each night.
Sleeping isn’t lazy or a luxury – it’s essential
For a long time, scientists understood that humans and other animals need sleep, but they were not exactly sure why this is. Important breakthroughs were made in a recent UCLA study, where researchers found evidence to show that human brains switched from a brain-building mode into a brain recovery mode during sleep, clearing neurological damage from the day that includes damaged genes, proteins that can cause brain disease, and more.
But it’s not just the brain that benefits from sleep – the heart does too. Not getting enough sleep or enough good quality sleep is linked by research to increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. It was found that having less than 6 hours of sleep a night caused a 25% increase in risk for poor cardiovascular health, and those with poor quality sleep had an astonishing 200% greater risk for poor heart health. In addition, when we’re tired and fatigued from lack of rest, we’re also more likely to choose easy yet unhealthy meals and to choose to sit on the couch rather than get the exercise that our hearts need.
How to get a good night’s rest
To support your heart health, you have to get enough hours of sleep and the sleep has to be uninterrupted. Ideally, this means 8 hours of quality sleep for an adult – not always an easy thing to do! Here are some tips to follow to improve your sleep duration and quality:
- Be consistent – Whenever possible, try to fall asleep and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Stick to 8 hours a night rather than trying to catch up on rest by sleeping in late.
- Create a sleep routine – Make your bedroom as peaceful as possible, removing clutter, tech, dirty clothing, and generally cleaning it up. Think of it as a luxury hotel space that’s all about relaxation. Invest in black-out curtains if you have streetlights nearby, use meditation music to block out noise, and meditate or have a nice warm bath or shower before you go to bed. Scents like chamomile, lavender, rose, and sandalwood can also help you relax and train your brain for rest. Start your routine about one hour before you plan to fall asleep.
- Stay away from screens – This is probably one of the most difficult tips to follow, but the science backs it up! Sadly, the light emitted by smartphones, tablets, computers, and TVs directly impacts our circadian rhythm, confusing our internal clocks so our brains and bodies stay alert even when we should be resting. Try to stay away from these screens for one hour before bedtime.
- Don’t nap for long – If you nap during the day, you’re not going to feel sleepy enough at night, which leads to you getting tired in the day. Limit naps to 30 minutes or eliminate them altogether. If you feel tired in the day, rather meditate for 10-15 minutes, go for a short walk, or take a break from work.
- Get active – Exercise tired the brain and body, so try to get some kind of physical activity into your daily routine. Don’t exercise too close to bedtime, however, as the increase in heart rate and blood pressure from physical activity will make you temporarily more alert rather than making you sleepy. Choose something you love to do, or make it a social activity, and you’ll find it helps to boost your mood, is easier to stick to, and gives you the most benefits.
At DefibsPlus, we provide affordable HeartSine AEDs as well as replacement AED parts, kits, and storage units. Because we are passionate about improving outcomes and survival rates for SCA, we also offer a subsidy to help make these critical devices more affordable, and we supply free defibrillator training when you buy a defibrillator from our team.
For more information on our products and services or the DefibsPlus defibrillator subsidy, call 1300 463 344 or use our online form to contact us today. Together, we can save lives.