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It’s widely known at this point that there is a direct link between poor sleep and poor health. Insomnia, sleep apnea, and anything that deprives your body of good sleep will eventually cause your health to decline. One of the problems that isn’t talked about as often is how sleep affects your heart.
A recent study found people who slept fewer than six hours a night – compared with those who slept six to nine hours – had a 20 percent higher risk of heart attack. Whether it’s weight gain, added stress, or something else, it’s important to understand just how sleep affects your heart.
Poor Sleep, Weight Gain, and Triglycerides
Many studies have linked poor sleep to an increased risk of heart disease. Ongoing sleep deprivation has not only been associated with high blood pressure (hypertension), a known risk factor for heart disease, it’s also been linked with higher levels of chemicals linked to inflammation.
There is evidence that lack of sleep, or getting poor sleep, contributes to excess body weight. One study found people who slept fewer than seven hours each night were more likely to have a higher average body mass index and develop obesity than those who slept more.
You tend to eat more when you’re tired. Since your metabolism gets a lot slower when you’re not sleeping well, this causes weight gain. This will negatively affect your cholesterol, particularly your triglycerides. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body. Most of your body's fat is stored as triglycerides.
The higher your triglycerides are, the more likely you are to develop heart disease, pancreatitis, or have a stroke. Of course, maintaining a good diet and exercise help when it comes to keeping the weight off and triglycerides at bay, but not getting good sleep on a consistent basis makes everything much more difficult and dangerous in the long term.
Sleep Positions and Your Heart
For those who don’t have an underlying heart condition, your sleep position isn’t a major concern. However, if you do have a heart condition, you should avoid sleeping on your left side. Right-side sleeping lets the heart rest in place with help from the mediastinum, preventing the disruption of your heart’s electrical current. This will help ward off breathing issues and discomfort while sleeping.
Along with avoiding your left side, people with pre-existing heart conditions should avoid sleeping on their back. This can worsen sleep apnea, and people with sleep apnea are more likely to experience heart disease.
Sleeping on your stomach can relieve sleep apnea and snoring but could cause neck or back pain. One solution is sleeping on your back and elevating your head with an adjustable base to allow air to flow a little more freely when you’re breathing.
Healthy Sleep, Healthy Heart
Heart disease is a very serious issue – and heart attacks and strokes are no laughing matter. Some of the easiest ways to help prevent heart disease is to eat healthy, exercise, and get good sleep consistently.
The sleep experts at Mattress Warehouse know that every person sleeps different. That’s why we have bedMATCH®, our patented sleep diagnostic system, to help you choose the mattress that’s specifically designed to give you the most optimal sleep experience. The sleep experts can also help you find the right pillows and the right adjustable base to help you get your best night’s sleep. Visit a store today and ask how we can help you sleep better tomorrow.