Good Sleep is Essential for a Healthy Heart

By Betty Murray

Want to have a healthy heart? Sleep.

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, limited alcohol consumption and not smoking are four keys to a healthy heart. But there is mounting evidence that getting enough sleep boosts the benefits of a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Researchers from the Netherlands published their findings from a study about sleep and heart health last year in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology.

Sleep “should be mentioned as an additional way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said principal investigator Monique Verschuren, of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. “The evidence is certainly growing that sleep should be added to our list of CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk factors.”

Obesity and high blood pressure are two risk factors for heart disease, and poor sleep has been linked to both. Another study suggest a link between sleep and preventing type 2 diabetes, also a risk factor for heart disease.

In addition to sleep boosting the benefits of a heart-healthy lifestyle, people who suffer from the sleep disorder sleep apnea may be at significantly greater risk of sudden cardiac death.

In a study published last year, researchers found that between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., sudden cardiac death occurred in 46 percent of the participants with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), compared to 21 percent of participants without OSA and 16 percent of the general population.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which muscles in the back of the throat close during sleep, blocking the airway.

Adults should get between seven and eight hours of sleep a night to receive the full benefits of a good night’s rest. If you struggle from insomnia, or exhibit symptoms of sleep apnea, such as snoring or episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep observed by another person, schedule an appointment with your physician.

There are treatments for both insomnia and sleep apnea that can improve quality and quantity of your sleep. Receiving treatment for your sleep disorder could save your life.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.