Sleep is now one of the risk factors for heart diseases and heart attacks

Lack of sleep has independently been shown to increase the risk for heart disease over and above what were traditional risk factors like cholesterol and diabetes.

Sleep is now one of the risk factors for heart diseases and heart attacks
The concept of getting up early in the morning at 5 am to get your creative best. (File)

By Dr Ankur Phatarpekar

One of the most important cornerstones of a healthy existence is getting a decent night’s sleep. Even if you are eating healthily, exercising frequently, and engaging in activities that improve your mental health, everything will inevitably fail if you are not getting enough sleep. In fact, even if you get 8 to 9 hours of sleep every day, you could not feel fully refreshed.

The concept of getting up early in the morning at 5 am to get your creative best. It surely makes you more organized but what about the price to pay, which is a lack of good sound sleep. Sleep is an essential part of life; it is like a battery recharge to maintain adequate homeostasis. The new American Heart Disease (AHA) advisory adds to lack of adequate sleep is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular events. AHA calls it life’s simple 8. To give you a brief history AHA came with an advisory in 2010 promoting 7 health factors and behaviors to promote cardiovascular health. They have added 1 more to this making it 8.

Lack of sleep has independently been shown to increase the risk for heart disease over and above what were traditional risk factors like cholesterol and diabetes. The quality of sleep plays a very important part in maintaining overall health. An estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2019, representing 32 percent of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85 percent were due to heart attack and stroke, according to the World Health Organization.

Your heart health might be improved if you get the appropriate number of hours of sleep for your age group. But it can only do so much if you are not getting adequate rest. The number of times a person wakes up during the night, whether they have a rapid heartbeat or difficulties breathing, and whether they have sleep apnea can all affect how well they sleep. Additionally, the relationship between sleep length and quality is not necessarily linear.

If you deep dive into a lot of the data from sleep studies, it is not always true that longer stretches of sleep are of higher quality than shorter ones. People who can sleep soundly can relax their bodies and enjoy their slumber. These are reliable overall indicators of how well your body is regenerating and resting. To add to the above now there is an array of software on medical wearables which can guide us regarding the quality of sleep.

The following are steps you can take to enhance sleep quality if you frequently wake up throughout the night and feel exhausted in the morning:
Sleep in a room that is completely dark and noiseless
Set a regular time for sleeping and waking up
Make sure you are exercising or engaging in any other type of physical activity during the day. Also, make sure you are getting some sun exposure. This encourages the release of serotonin in our brains, which in turn encourages the release of melatonin at night.
As numerous daytime naps may interfere with our ability to sleep at night, avoid them.

It is time to see a sleep expert if you have symptoms like daytime fatigue even after 7-8 hours of sleep, morning headaches, or a lack of productivity.
This study and advisory by AHA have been long due and pertinent in view of the erratic work schedules of young people. So, remember to prevent heart disease – “sleep well and sleep tight”.

(The author is Interventional Cardiologist and structural heart specialist at Symbiosis Hospital, Mumbai. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)

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