A good nights sleep. However much We want to get the recommended 7-8 hours a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation, almost one-third of Americans sleep for 6.5 hours or less each night.
This means that not only are we walking around in a bad mood with our eyes half open and a giant cup of coffee in hand, now research shows that we are actually putting our heart at risk!
Dr. Alexandros Vgontzas, professor of psychiatry at The Pennsylvania State University in Hershey reveals that even a small amount of sleep deprivation may be linked to low-grade inflammation, which can lead to a number of heart problems. Vgontzas and his team of researchers deprived 25 men and women of just two hours of sleep per night over a six-week period.
The subjects blood levels were examined for immune-system molecules called cytokines, which are normally secreted during inflammation and infection. All of the participants in the study had increased concentrations of cytokines, which confirms that a lack of sleep may stimulate an increase in chronic inflammation.
This is worrying information, particularly because continuous inflammation has been shown to lead to hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and even heart failure. Lack of quality sleep also has a large effect on your blood sugar levels. If you are deprived of sleep, it requires more insulin to balance your blood sugar levels, which, in turn, can lead to heart disease and a host of other health related problems, not least of which is diabetes.
So no you know you know you need more sleep but you don’t know how it will fit into your busy schedule. Maybe the quantity of hours shouldn’t be your goal, let’s try focusing on getting good “quality” sleep. The first option that people think of to help them sleep more soundly is to seek out over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids.
However, there are several downsides to this approach to consider:
• Tolerance buildup – meaning your body can require more of the medication in order to achieve the same effect.
• You may feel sleepy from the dose the night before which could put you at risk if driving etc
• They can be highly addictive – your body may become reliant on them. A far better choice is to consider more natural approaches.
You can also do simple things like avoiding caffeine and mind stimulating television before bedtime, or practice relaxation exercises to help you unwind. You can also seek out a natural herbal supplement that will help you drift off to a sound sleep.
Trying these more natural approaches may be just the thing to safely help you obtain a sound nights rest without the risks that are usually associated with other traditional medications.
The evidence is overwhelming, getting sensible amounts of good quality sleep is essential to achieving optimal health and particularly a healthy heart. Make sure you get those z’s.