• Sleep and Cardiovascular Disease

    Type Size


    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.

  • More About Sleep and Cardiovascular Disease

    Type Size

    Do You Have Insomnia Due to a Heart-Related Sleep Problem?

    Insomnia is a common condition in which you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or returning to sleep after you awaken in the night. Find out if your insomnia may be due to a heart-related sleep problem. Your doctor may be able to help you sleep better if you bring your sleep problems to his or her attention.

    Do You Snore Loudly or Have Sleep Apnea?

    Do you snore loudly? Do you also regularly suffer from daytime sleepiness? If so, you could have sleep apnea, a common and serious sleep disorder that affects many people with cardiovascular disease. And even if you don’t yet have cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea increases your risk for cardiovascular disease. So, even though snoring is not always related to sleep apnea, it could be a reason to be checked by your doctor.

    How Does Being Sleep-Deprived Affect Your Health?

    If you’re one of the 37 percent of people who sleep fewer than 7 hours per night—or if the quality of your sleep is poor—you might be sleep-deprived. While some people need less sleep than others, studies show getting less sleep than you need may negatively affect your health.

    How to Be Supportive of Your Partner with Sleep Apnea

    Your partner may be the one with sleep apnea, but you may be just as sleep deprived as your partner. This can make being supportive of your partner more of a challenge. But communicating and working together will help both of you sleep better.

    Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Sleep and Cardiovascular Disease

    The following questions can help you talk to your physician about your sleep concerns.

    Resources on Sleep and Cardiovascular Disease

    More information on sleep and cardiovascular disease here.

    Tips for Coping with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine

    When you first learn you need to use a CPAP machine every time you sleep, you may feel limited, overwhelmed, or even alarmed about the idea. But once you have the right machine and mask for you, you should be able to breathe easier and sleep better.

    Tips to Improve Your Sleep

    Some sleep problems may improve if you change a few of your sleep-related habits. A routine that helps get your body ready for sleep is sometimes called “proper sleep hygiene.” In general, avoiding stimulants and engaging in relaxing behaviors before bedtime promotes better sleep. Here’s how you can develop a sleep routine to promote heart health.