Sleep Health: Sleep and Your Heart

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Sleep is an important part of your overall well-being. Sleep deprivation can increase your risk for a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease. Studies have found that lack of sleep can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which can put you at greater risk for heart disease and stroke.

While the link between shortened sleep and heart diseases isn’t currently completely understood, several studies have revealed that people who sleep poorly are at greater risk for a number of diseases and health problems.

Practicing a consistent bedtime routine can help you sleep better, such as avoiding stimulants like caffeine close to bedtime, turning the lights down low, and turning off electronics. If you are practicing good sleep hygiene and still having issues, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder in which breathing starts and stops throughout the night. Untreated sleep apnea puts you at a greater risk of high blood pressure because your body isn’t getting the restful sleep it needs. If you already have heart disease or signs of heart disease, you become at greater risk of having a heart attack in the middle of the night.

Many individuals who don’t sleep well rely on stimulants, like caffeine or prescription medication, to stay awake during the day, which also strains the heart.

The better night’s sleep you get, the healthier your heart will be. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your primary care physician to see what may be keeping you awake. Not only will treating your poor sleep help solve issues commonly associated with inadequate sleep – like feeling tired during the day and having difficulty concentrating – but it could also prevent and/or treat a myriad of cardiovascular diseases and other serious health conditions down the road.

Annie Penn Sleep Disorders Center and Cone Health Sleep Disorders Center (next to Wesley Long Hospital) is dedicated to detecting sleep disorders and providing exceptional care to patients suffering from sleep disorders throughout the community. Cone Health also has an extensive network of cardiologists and related professionals who can help identify and treat heart issues.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Clint Young is a pulmonary medicine specialist and the medical director of Cone Health Sleep Disorders Center.  Dr. Young is a diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. He is a 1974 graduate of the University of Virginia Medical School. Dr. Young completed his residency at Medical University of South Carolina and his fellowship at University of Arizona Health Sciences Center.