Does Your Heart Need Sleep? You Bet It Does
Heart Health Benefits From Good Sleep
If you find yourself hitting snooze more often than not, let the sound of that merciless alarm be a warning that you aren’t getting enough sleep. It’s not just about feeling rested – it’s a matter of the heart. Getting less sleep than recommended on a regular basis could spell future heart disease or even death.
One reason the heart is so vulnerable to a lack of sleep is that the body experiences a series of physiological processes during sleep, says Dr. Michael Grandner, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine–Tucson. Sleep restores energy, drops blood pressure, releases hormones, slows breathing, relaxes muscles, increases blood supply and promotes tissue growth and repair. “When we sacrifice sleep or the sleep we get is not good quality, it doesn’t allow those processes to happen the way they’re supposed to,” he says. Here’s how your sleep – or lack of sleep – could be affecting your heart:
People who are considered long sleepers – which means getting more than nine hours of sleep each night – don’t live as long as those who get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night, Grandner says. Short sleepers, or the 20 to 30 percent of us who get six hours or less each night, have even worse health outcomes, including an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and obesity.