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If You Don’t Snooze, You Lose: How a Better Night’s Sleep Can Improve Your Overall Health

If You Don’t Snooze, You Lose: How a Better Night’s Sleep Can Improve Your Overall Health

Mar 1, 2023

About one-third of adults in the United States report getting less than the recommended amount of sleep each night. “A lack of sleep negatively impacts your mind and body and is associated with chronic conditions such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and depression,” said Pranav Patel, MD, a board-certified clinical cardiologist at Inspira Health and a member provider of the Cooper and Inspira Cardiac Care network. “Knowing how much sleep you need and developing habits that promote quality sleep is essential to your overall health and well-being.” 

Sleep duration and cardiovascular health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and globally. However, research suggests that more than 80 percent of all cardiovascular events can be prevented by managing risk factors and adopting a healthier lifestyle—including sleep. 

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), sleep duration is essential to cardiovascular and neurological health. Along with healthy sleep, the AHA’s Life’s Essential 8TM checklist for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health includes behaviors and factors like nicotine exposure, diet, weight, physical activity, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose.  

The decision to add sleep duration to this checklist is research-based. “The latest findings tell us that sleep affects our overall health,” said Patel. “People with healthier sleep habits can more effectively manage cardiovascular risk factors, such as weight and blood pressure.” 

How much sleep do I need?

The amount of sleep you need changes as you age. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) makes the following recommendations for hours of sleep based on age group: 

  • Infants: 12 to 16 hours 
  • Toddlers: 11 to 14 hours 
  • Children 3 to 5: 10 to 14 hours 
  • Children 6 to 12: 9 to 12 hours 
  • Teenagers: 8 to 10 hours 
  • Adults: 7 or more hours 

Beyond getting the right amount of sleep, getting a consistent amount of sleep each night is also fundamental to your cardiovascular health. According to a new study, published in the American Heart Association, adults with irregular sleep patterns—people whose total amount of sleep changes by two or more hours each night—had a significantly increased risk in developing coronary artery disease and a possible increase in peripheral vascular disease. People with irregular sleep patterns included those that worked afternoon or night shifts, and interestingly those that did not work at all. This patient population also had higher blood pressure rates, an increase in inflammation, and varying insulin levels; all of which have historically been associated with increased levels of atherosclerosis, or the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on the hearts arteries. 

This group also included people with obstructive sleep apnea which can also affect sleep quality. These people often suffer from snoring, choking, or gasping for air while sleeping.  and can be diagnosed by a sleep study. This can lead to decreased oxygen levels and increased carbon dioxide levels while sleeping, tripling your risk of developing atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart beat which can increase your risk your stroke. 

While an occasional early morning or late night won’t completely disrupt your circadian rhythm, research shows that consistent sleep patterns are better for your overall health.

Tips for good sleep hygiene

Good sleep habits can enhance your overall health. You can improve your sleep hygiene by: 

  • Going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning
  • Setting an early bedtime to ensure you get the recommended amount of sleep 
  • Limiting exposure to bright lights and electronics in the evening 
  • Removing electronic devices from your bedroom and keeping it quiet, dark, cool and relaxing 
  • Engaging in physical activity during the day and maintaining a healthy diet 
  • Avoiding large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime 

Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA.

Topics: Sleep, Health and Wellness, Cardiology & Heart Health, Children's Health