During sleep our body repairs damaged tissues and produces hormones, necessary for the proper functioning of the body.
A good sleep is not only vital for good physical health, it is extremely crucial for good heart health as well.
Even though the heart is pumping during sleep, its work rate dips significantly, reducing blood pressure and rhythm at which the heart is pumping.
However, poor sleep strips the heart of time necessary to lower blood pressure and disrupts other biological processes like inflammatory reactions and metabolism of glucose and cholesterol, leading to serious negative heart health outcomes.
Reduction of blood pressure during night sleep is particularly important for the heart health.
Chronic sleep deprivation eventually leads to high blood pressure, whereas even a single night of poor sleep in patients with already existing hypertension can cause elevated blood pressure over the whole following day.
In sleep-deprived people the heart rate usually doesn’t fluctuate normally but stays elevated, having the same effect on health as heightened stress and leading to heart arrhythmia.
Coronary Artery Disease
Poor sleep causes increased buildup of calcium in the coronary arteries and around the heart valves, leading, in its turn, to coronary artery disease.
Poor sleep may also lead to an increase in C-reactive protein that is released in response to inflammation and during stress.
The buildup of this unhealthy protein is a serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Poor sleep also impacts cholesterol metabolism.
Researchers have concluded that sleep-deprived people have impaired genes that are involved in regulating cholesterol transport.
If we consume too much bad cholesterol from food without being able to metabolize it properly, it damages vessels and arteries leading to atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis, in its turn, restricts blood flow which may result in heart attack and other heart problems.
In addition, it was found that sleep-deprived people had lower levels of HDL lipoproteins – good cholesterol, which has some protective abilities on the arteries.
Thus, poor sleep lowers good cholesterol, which contributes to potential cardiovascular problems.
Lack of sleep may also interfere with appetite.
In people who are deprived of sleep there are low levels of leptin (a hormone that alerts brain that you have had enough to eat) and high levels of ghrelin (a hunger hormone that stimulates appetite and regulates the rate of energy use).
As a result, people often end up eating more or eating unhealthy foods, such as sweets that satisfy cravings for a quick energy boost.
Overeating in its turn leads to obesity, and lack of sleep leaves people tired to exercise and burn off those extra calories.
Poor sleep is also related to the increase in production of the hormone insulin following a meal.
This hormone regulates glucose metabolism and promotes fat storage by inhibiting the breakdown of fat cells and stimulating the creation of body fat.
Higher levels of insulin lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
Sleep disruptions like obstructive sleep apnea may contribute to heart issues.
People who suffer from apnea wake up frequently throughout the night as a result of their airway closing when they fall asleep.
In addition to these sleep disruptions people with apnea also have brief surges in blood pressure every time they wake up.
In the course of time, this can lead to chronic hypertension and a higher chance of cardiovascular problems.
Luckily, when sleep apnea is treated, blood pressure may go down.
However, poor sleep resulting from poor sleep habits or changing work schedules can put you at risk as well.
In order to diminish the chances of cardiovascular problems it is vital to get the necessary amount of good sleep per night.
On average, adults should have a 7-9 hour sleep per night.
However, sleeping for several hours longer is not a health guarantee. Those who have too much sleep may become exhausted and irritable because they spend less time in deep sleep.
Long sleepers are also more likely to suffer a heart attack.
At the same time, chronic illnesses like heart disease often make people feel tired; therefore sleeping for more than 9 hours per night can be an early warning sign.
On the other way around, it is necessary to note that heart problems also can be the reason for poor sleep. Thus, people with congestive heart failure may suffer from central sleep apnea, and patients with coronary artery disease may have their sleep disrupted by angina.
If you are not getting good quality night sleep or have any sleep issues, share your symptoms with your physician or a sleep specialist.
Treating sleep problems must be a priority and may become an important step in preventing a number of heart diseases.
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