By: Hillary Rotunda, B.A.
Happy Valentine’s Day! The best gift you can give your loved one is good health. This Valentine’s Day, in addition to the flowers and oversized teddy bears, wrap up your dinner a little early so you can gift yourselves a good night’s sleep. With the long list of things to get done every day, it seems impossible to get the seven to nine hours of sleep that is commonly recommended. Sleep may not be your number one priority. This is not uncommon. Nearly one in three Americans said they do not get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep.1 Besides being overly tired, consistently not getting enough sleep can lead to poor hearth health and cause high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and unhealthy weight gain.1
Sleep is fundamental for recharging, repairing, destressing and, as a result, keeping a healthy heart. There is extensive research that sleep has been shown as a key link to a healthy heart, along with regular exercise and a healthy diet to fighting heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc. Here is a look at just a few of the connections between the heart and sleep:
- Heart Disease: When the body is sleep deprived, one of its natural responses is inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to the hardening of the arteries. This build-up in the arteries leads to increased blood pressure, which decreases the amount of blood pumped to the heart, causing coronary heart disease.2
- Obesity: There is a strong link between the lack of sufficient sleep and being overweight. Leptin and ghrelin, which control appetite are not at the appropriate level when there is lack of sleep. Because of this, late night snacking is much more likely. In addition, metabolism slows down at night, as your body is preparing for sleep, causing the digestion process to be slower and promoting weight gain.3
- Stress: As mentioned in the last blog, stress also has a detrimental affect on our hearts. Sleep can help combat stress. Getting enough sleep allows you to enter the NREM (non-rapid eye movement) cycle, or deep sleep. During this stage, the heart rate slows down, blood pressure lowers and breathing regulates. This helps prevent the harmful effects of daily stress.2
These three examples are just the tip of the iceberg on the reasons we need to get enough sleep. Making a good night’s rest a top priority can lead to a much longer, happier, and energized life. So first ask yourself if you are getting enough sleep. If not, what can you do to not only get more sleep, but quality sleep? Try these recommendations:
- Sleep in a completely dark room. Think about getting black out shades, a clock that does not exude light and turn your mobile device on airplane mode. Even the slightest light can wake your brain up out of NREM sleep.
- Turn down the temperature. Making your room cooler at night can help induce a restful sleep. Temperature preference is different for everyone, but research shows that a room around 65 degrees is generally the most comfortable.4
- Create a nighttime routine. Doing the same few things before you go to bed will help your body know it is time to sleep. Reading a chapter of a book, turning down the lights, meditating or reflecting on your day or switching on a soothing podcast can all help relax the mind and body. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it is done daily so your body is trained to efficiently fall asleep.
- Turn off devices. Your smart devices, such as phone, TV, or tablet, give off artificial blue light. This blue light blocks the production of the hormone melatonin, which makes you naturally drowsy. To prevent this from happening, make it a goal to turn of your smart devices at least thirty minutes before you want to go to bed.5
Including enough sleep into your daily routine is arguably one of the best things you can do for your heart health. A healthy heart means a long and happy life. Visit our website to see what health and wellness services you can give your Valentine this year.
Starting from when she was a little girl, Hillary’s passion has always been in living a healthy way of life through movement and eating right. She played many sports when growing up but ended up sticking with volleyball and softball through college at Concordia College in Moorhead. While at Concordia, she earned a double major in exercise science and nutrition, graduating in 2015. After moving to the cities from my long-time home of the Fargo area, she was not quite sure what her passion was until she started working as a personal trainer. She learned from brilliant personal trainers and physical therapists, which led to her discovery of corrective exercise being her passion. She has decided to finish up the classes needed to apply for physical therapy school, which she plans on doing soon! She is excited to be at Live Your Life Physical Therapy to learn as much as she can from Dr. Norman and all the physical therapist on staff!
1“How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart Health?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Jan. 2021, www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/sleep.htm.
2“How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Heart.” Sleep Foundation, 4 Dec. 2020, www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-deprivation/how-sleep-deprivation-affects-your-heart.
3“The Link Between Obesity and Sleep Deprivation.” Sleep Foundation, 20 Nov. 2020, www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/obesity-and-sleep.
4“How to Sleep Better.” Sleep Foundation, 28 Jan. 2021, www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/healthy-sleep-tips.
5“How to Manage Blue Light for Better Sleep.” WebMD, WebMD, 3 Oct. 2020, www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-blue-light#:~:text=Exposure%20to%20all%20colors%20of,melatonin%20that%20makes%20you%20sleepy.