Lack of sleep affects your heart health more than you think.
When you think of heart-healthy lifestyle choices, eating a nutrient-rich diet, moving more, and quitting smoking may come to mind. But there’s one crucial factor that you—and more than one-third of Americans—may be forgetting: getting enough sleep.
“One thing my patients may not realize is how important sleep is for their overall health and also for their cardiovascular health,” says Paul Knoepflmacher, MD, a clinical instructor in medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. People who don't sleep enough are at higher risk for high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease—regardless of their age, weight, smoking, and exercise habits.
This is especially true for people who suffer from sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. “Sleep apnea is absolutely correlated with cardiovascular disease, stroke, cardiac death—and a lot of us are sleep deprived,” says Dr. Knoepflmacher.
Why is sleep so important for your health? “During that rest period, your body is regenerating fresh new cells [and] getting rid of the bad cells; the garbage,” says Satjit Bhusri, MD, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital. “If you don’t get enough sleep, you have an accumulation of this trash that causes both mental and physical problems.” For example, sleep deprivation can cause your hunger hormones to go out of whack, which can lead to unhealthy eating and weight gain. (Here are more ways your body suffers when you skimp on sleep.) “For your whole body, for all your organs, for your brain, for your heart—all of that regeneration, that turnover of fresh new cells, happens while you sleep,” says Dr. Bhusri.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours every night, but 6 or 10 hours may be appropriate for some people.
“A lot of it has to do with how someone feels and the quality of their sleep,” says Dr. Knoepflmacher. “If you’re sleeping 10 hours, and you’re waking up and you’re not rested, that’s no good. And there are some people who can get by on 6 hours and they’re perfectly well-rested,” he says. The best way to know if you’re getting quality sleep? Listen to your body and avoid these seemingly innocent sleep-sabotaging habits.
Dr. Knoepflmacher is a clinical instructor of medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where he also maintains a private practice.Sonal Chaudhry
Dr. Chaudhry is an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City.Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe
Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe is an internist and health media expert in New York City.Satjit Bhusri
Dr. Bhusri is an attending cardiologist at the Lenox Hill Heart & Vascular Institute and an assistant professor of cardiology at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine.
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One thing my patients may not realize
is how important sleep is for
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their overall health and also for
their cardiovascular health.
00:00:08,391 --> 00:00:13,491
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Sleeping better can help you
improve your metabolic health.
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It can help you with weight control.
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It can help you with reducing
your risk of diabetes.
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People who don't sleep enough have
can issues with high blood pressure,
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especially if they have
something called sleep apnea,
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where their breathing is interrupted.
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And sleep apnea is absolutely
correlated with cardiovascular disease,
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strokes, cardiac death.
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And a lot of us are sleep deprived.
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And there's a lot of studies now that show
that people who don't get enough sleep
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are just less healthy.
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They may eat improperly, they may
gain weight, they may be tired and
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have trouble concentrating.
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Getting good sleep is really,
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It's recommended that you get on
average 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
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A lot of it has to do
just how someone feels, and
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what's the quality of their sleep.
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If you're sleeping 10 hours, and
you're waking up and you're not rested,
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that's no good.
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And there are some people who
can get by in six hours, and
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they're perfectly well rested.
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For your whole body, for
all your organs, it's for your brain, for
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All of regeneration,
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that is all of turnover fresh new
cells happens while you sleep.
00:01:16,810 --> 00:01:20,140
During that rest period,
your body's turning around,
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regenerating fresh new cells,
getting rid of the bad cells, the garbage.
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And if you don't get enough
sleep you have accumulation of
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stress that causes both mental and
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How Sleep Deprivation Affects the Heart. Arlington, VA. National Sleep Foundation. (Accessed on February 10. 2021 at https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/how-sleep-deprivation-affects-your-heart)
Sleep Apnea. Arlington, VA. National Sleep Foundation. (Accessed on February 10. 2021 at https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/sleep-apnea)
National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times. Arlington, VA. National Sleep Foundation. (Accessed on February 10. 2021 at https://sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times/page/0/1)