Inadequate sleep is not just an annoying fact of life. Studies have shown it may raise your risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, the effect of poor sleep on cardiovascular disease is a two-way street. Inadequate sleep appears to contribute to cardiovascular disease. And cardiovascular disease may disturb your sleep. This could become an exhausting, vicious cycle if you ignore your sleep problems.
Poor sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (clogging or hardening of the arteries), heart failure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. Poor sleep appears to increase substances in your body, such as c-reactive protein, that indicate inflammation is a problem. So, inflammation, which is how the body responds to injury, infection or disease, may be part of the reason poor sleep affects your cardiovascular system. Poor sleep also causes the body to produce more stress hormones, which may contribute to cardiovascular disease.
On the other hand, sometimes symptoms related to cardiovascular disease can be a cause of poor sleep. Angina (chest pain), arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), sleep apnea (a series of breathing pauses during sleep that stress your cardiovascular system), and fluid build-up in the lungs due to heart failure may all disrupt sleep.
The good news is there are steps you can take to improve your sleep. Always talk to your doctor about your sleep problems, however minor you think they might be. There may be lifestyle changes or treatments that can help you sleep better. And read on, so SecondsCount.org can help you improve the quality of sleep you get.