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Sleep Health and Heart Health: What's the Link?

Sleep Health and Heart Health: What's the Link?

Practising good sleep hygiene is certainly all the rage these days in health and wellness circles. And really, who could blame the hype? Sleep goes far beyond banishing under-eye bags. It allows your body to rejuvenate, restore, and refuel its energy tank. Without enough, sleep debt will quickly seep into every nook and cranny of your biology – and heart health isn’t exempt.


Advice to take to heart

Whether you regularly short-change shut-eye in favour of work and social commitments or experience the unrelenting wrath of insomnia, skimping on sleep can have serious repercussions for your cardiovascular health. Sleep deprivation can lead to a surge in stress hormones, like cortisol, and inflammation – both of which play a role in heart and circulatory diseases. Shockingly, just one night of broken sleep is enough to disrupt the fragile status quo of your cardiovascular system.


The obesity connection

But hormonal complications are just the tip of the iceberg. Tossing and turning all hours of the night may also lead to weight gain, further taxing the heart. Not only does poor sleep rev up the production of the hormone, ghrelin, which increases appetite, but it also suppresses leptin – the hormone that signals food satisfaction. Sleep deprivation can make you more prone to fatigue and stress, too, weakening your stand against unhealthy food cravings. Worse still, it can totally deplete your motivation to exercise.


Sleep disorders

Sleep apnoea is a common sleep disorder typified by loud snoring and repetitive episodes in which a person temporarily stops breathing. Generally associated with obesity, sleep apnoea is known to elevate the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and even heart attack. If you suspect you may have sleep apnoea, we strongly recommend discussing treatment options with your GP.


The sleep sweet spot

There’s a stark difference between the amount of sleep you can just about survive on, and the amount your body needs to perform at its best. While most healthy adults demand seven to nine hours to support their wellbeing needs, requirements will vary from person to person. Remember, the definition of a ‘good night’s sleep’ isn’t necessarily a number; it’s also about quality. It can be helpful to ask yourself the following questions to find that sleep sweet spot.

  1. Do you wake up feeling refreshed?

  2. Do you wake up at the same time every day?

  3. Do you fall asleep within 30 minutes?

 

Top tips for improving sleep hygiene:

  • Avoid using technology 90-minutes before bed

  • Remove all screens from your bedroom

  • Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock

  • Use ‘night-mode’ on all of your e-devices

  • Buy a pair of amber glasses to filter harmful blue light from screens

  • Consider sleeping with the bedroom window open (the optimal sleeping temperature is around 16-18 degrees)

  • Fit blackout blinds in your bedroom

  • Live by the ‘no caffeine after noon’ rule

  • Embrace morning light with regular outdoor breaks

  • Exercise and socialise earlier in the day

  • Avoid intense activity three hours before bed

  • Try to eat dinner before 7pm


Interested in learning more about Sleep Health all that is assocaited with it! Why not have a look around our dedicated Sleep Hub



 

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Our Author - Keri Filtness
 

Keri

Keri Filtness has worked in the Nutrition Industry for 19 years. She is regularly called upon for her professional comments on health and nutrition related news. Her opinions have been featured by BBC3, Prima, Vitality, The Mirror, Woman’s Own and Cycling Weekly, amongst others. She has also worked one to one with journalists, analysing their diets and health concerns and recommending changes and additions, where appropriate.

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