Whether from occasional stress, illness, travel or other interruptions to your normal routine, many of us have trouble falling asleep from time to time. However, if your lack of sleep is a regular occurrence, it could be an indicator of common sleep problems and can even place strain on your heart.
Sleep and Heart Health
A sleep disorder is a condition that frequently impacts your ability to get enough quality sleep and could lead to health problems. “Ongoing sleep deficiency is connected to an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and heart disease,” says Avni Jain, MD, a primary care doctor with Adventist Medical Group.
Common sleep disorders include:
- Insomnia - trouble falling or staying asleep.
- Sleep apnea - breathing is blocked during sleep.
- Restless legs syndrome - an unpleasant sensation causing the urge to move.
- Narcolepsy - sudden sleep attacks that may occur during any activity at any time of day.
- Parasomnias - undesirable physical activities that occur during sleep (night terrors and sleepwalking).
Not getting enough sleep makes it harder for your brain to function and affects your mood, energy, efficiency and ability to handle stress. It’s important to recognize the signs of sleep deprivation, such as:
- Feeling irritable or sleepy during the day
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Slow reaction time
- Trouble controlling emotions
- Requiring caffeinated beverages to stay awake
Good quality rest is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. “Getting enough sleep can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety,” says Dr. Jain. Try improving your sleep quality with these tips.
- Wake up and go to sleep around the same time each day to sync your internal clock
- Reduce screen time and bright lights at least 30 minutes before bed
- Relax and unwind with reading, meditation or prayer
- Take melatonin when it’s time to sleep
- Keep your room dark and cool, between 60 and 67 degrees
- Exercise daily but not too close to when you go to sleep
- Avoid large meals, alcohol or caffeine before bed
If you have prolonged trouble sleeping or notice the signs of sleep deprivation, talk to your primary care doctor.