Most people are clear on how diet and exercise impact their heart health. A sedentary lifestyle and a high-fat diet are usually the first things to go when someone is trying to improve their heart health. But, did you know that getting good sleep is also an important factor in having a healthy heart?
Sleep is critical to whole-body health. It’s the only time that your body gets to rest and recover from all of the work that it does for you. Research shows that while doctors recommend patients get 7 hours of sleep per night, most do not. Patients who do not get good sleep are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, and obesity. All of which are risk factors for their heart health. So the question is, how is your sleep? If you’re like the 1 in 3 Americans who aren’t getting enough sleep at night, here are some tips to help you wake up feeling rested tomorrow.
1. Reduce Blue Light Exposure
When you hear the term blue light, what do you think of? It’s not referring to a bright blue light like you’d see on the top of a police car, but rather the light that comes from electronic devices. The blue light emitted from your smartphone, laptop, and television may be impacting your ability to sleep at night. Specifically, blue light blocks your body’s ability to produce melatonin which is a natural sleep aid. If you’re struggling to sleep, consider removing blue light-emitting technology from your bedroom and stopping the use of it in the hours before you plan to go to sleep. If you can’t avoid your laptop or cell phone at night, you may consider investing in blue light blocking glasses to help you ease your way into sleep.
2. Reduce Caffeine Consumption
A cup of coffee or tea in the morning is a habit shared worldwide. Hopefully, your heart health journey has led you away from the sweet and creamy coffee drinks that are so popular. But you may not realize how much caffeine consumption is affecting your heart health by inhibiting your natural sleep cycle. If you are a serious coffee drinker and are having trouble getting to sleep at night, it’s high time to set some boundaries for yourself. Of course, coffee isn’t the only caffeinated beverage on the market. You may be surprised to know that your glass of iced tea at dinner is also keeping you up at night.
3. Create A Sleep Routine
If you’ve ever sleep trained a child you know that routine is key to getting them to fall asleep at night. The same is true for adults. When you set a sleep routine, it acts as a notice to your body that it’s time to start winding down for sleep. A good heart health-promoting sleep routine may include dressing for bed, brushing teeth and face washing, and reading a book. This ritual will help you wind down and signal to your body that it’s almost time for sleep. It doesn’t really matter what your routine looks like as long as it helps you wind down for the evening.
4. Create A Sleepy Environment
You may be surprised to know that your bedroom may have a negative impact on your ability to get a good night’s sleep. An environment for sleeping that promotes heart health ought to be quiet, dark, and comfortable. Depending upon your living environment this may not always be easy to achieve, but there are some things you can do to get your bedroom set up for sleep success. Invest in blackout curtains or another window covering that blocks out the light, whether you’re trying to sleep at night or during the day. Get a fan or portable air conditioner to maintain the ideal sleep temperature of 65-70 degrees. And, while you may not be able to reduce noise in your home, you can attempt to block it with earplugs, headphones, or a white noise machine. These small adjustments can work wonders for your sleep and heart health.
5. Avoid Alcohol
Many people are under the misconception that a glass of wine or two will actually help them fall asleep at night. And while that may feel true as you drift off to sleep, it turns out that alcohol actually reduces your body’s ability to achieve REM sleep which is the restorative sleep required to maintain heart health. If your heart health journey hasn’t already led you to a reduction in alcohol intake, hopefully, your commitment to good sleep will.
6. Consult Your Doctor
There may be a physical reason that you can’t get to sleep at night. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome may not be addressed by the other positive sleep habits that you implement. If you are concerned that there is a physical underlying reason that you are unable to get a good night’s sleep, you should consult with a specialist. These ongoing sleep issues can be detrimental to your heart health in the long run.
As it turns out, your lack of restful sleep is affecting you in more ways than simply making you feel a little groggy in the morning. Poor sleep and poor heart health are inextricably linked. But fortunately, there are some simple yet powerful changes you can make to your life to improve your sleep and heart health at one time. For more information about boosting your heart health, contact us today.