Sleep & Heart Disease

Article adapted from goredforwomen.org

Exercise and eating nutritious foods aren’t the only things that can help increase heart health; sleep is also a factor. The better night’s sleep you get, the healthier your heart will be. In fact, poor sleep quality is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, a potential cause of heart disease.

Recommended amount of sleep
So how much sleep is the right amount? Well, it varies from person to person, but most people need seven to eight hours per night. When we are young, we need more than that. As we grow older, we may need less. According to the American Heart Association, studies have found that most people need six to eight hours of sleep each day and that too little or too much can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Unfortunately in Singapore, only 48% of Singaporean adults get adequate rest. The data, based on a survey of 1,022 Singaporeans, showed that four in 10 adults get less than seven hours of sleep a night.

Negative effects of sleep deprivation
The heart is significantly impacted when the body doesn’t get enough sleep. A tired person will have minimal control over his impulses, thus indulging in more unhealthy food, leading to high body mass index and obesity. Consequently, illnesses like cardiovascular diseases, type-2 diabetes and lower immunity will follow after a long period of sleep deprivation.

People who are sleep deprived have a slower metabolism and may not want to exercise or participate in other healthy habits. It was also found that people who do not get the right amount of sleep, are more likely to die prematurely.

Positive effects of good sleep
The positive effects of a good sleep are immediately evident when we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. Beyond just feeling good, the positive effect of sleep is not just on your heart health but also on your stress hormones, your immune system, your breathing, and your mental status.

People who get seven to eight hours of sleep have more alertness and better focus. They have less depression and anxiety. Getting a good night’s sleep has a positive impact on your metabolism and weight loss benefits.

Issues for menopausal women
As women’s bodies go through menopause, sometimes their sleep is affected. This is often due to hot flashes and night sweats. Some are due to changes in their activity level and metabolism. Many women complain of the inability to fall asleep and many others complain of the inability to stay asleep.

How to improve your sleep habits
Do you suffer from a lack of restful sleep? If so, there are several things you can do to improve your situation.

Exercise:
Try getting adequate exercise.The Health Promotion Board recommends 150 minutes of
physical activity a week; that is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, 5 times a week.Alternatively, you may achieve at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week. However, avoid doing exercise 30 minutes prior to sleep.

Walking, housework and dancing all count as physical activity! Take the stairs instead of the lift, exercise with your family and friends for more motivation & fun, and download an exercise app or use a pedometer to keep track of your progress.

Avoid excess caffeine:
Avoid excess stimulants,such as caffeine, particularly before bed as they may keep you awake.

Establish an evening routine:
Have an evening routine of preparing for bed that includes turning off electronic devices and having soothing activities such as a hot shower or bath. Drinking chamomile tea may also be helpful, as can reading, praying or meditating.

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