How Sleep Affects Your Heart Health

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Last week I shared with you a study that shows even a small decrease in sleep, as little as one hour less of sleep, dramatically increases your risk of mood disturbances (anxiety, depression, hopelessness.)

This week is the last on my series focusing in on sleep… and this one is important too.

Turns out, your heart’s health is immediately impacted by your sleep.

 

The Study (published in Hypertension on June 6, 2016):

 

  • researchers looked at 26 healthy young adults (with no cardiac risk factors or history of cardiac disease) and compared their heart function during sessions of unrestricted sleep, during sessions with restricted sleep, and during sessions where sleep was shifted to throw their circadian rhythm off

 

The Results:

 

  • daytime heart rate was significantly increased after sleep was restricted
  • norepinephrine secretion was increased when sleep was restricted and the alignment of sleep (imitating shift work, jet lag, or insomnia due to light exposure at night) was off
  • cardiac vagal modulation (heart rate variability) was reduced when the circadian sleep rhythm was disrupted

 

These three parameters together suggest that even in young, healthy adults with absolutely zero cardiac disease, just being off on your sleep patterns can lead to an increase risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

If simply having your circadian rhythm off can stress out the heart — impairing autonomic regulation and cardiovascular physiology — then we need to be really diligent about sleep patterns.

Turns out it’s not just the amount of sleep but the timing of sleep that is stressful on our hearts.

The thing that upset me most as a physician is discovering that heart rate variability is reduced when sleep is shifted out of circadian alignment.

 

This is because heart rate variability (HRV) is one of the most important indicators of heart health.

Clinicians use HRV to predict sudden death after heart transplant, in premature newborns, and after for cardiac patients after massive heart attack.

 

You need variability in your heart rate — your heart needs the ability to be response and sensitive to the environment around you… speeding up and slowing down as needed depending on external situations.

When you lose that ability to adapt to your life circumstances, and instead your heart begins to beat on a mechanical, rote basis with little to no variability, your heart loses it’s health and your risk of death increases.

Thankfully you can actually do something to support your heart rate variability and increase the health of your heart, immediately.

 

Fortunately, grounding supports heart health and increases heart rate variability.

 

In this study, patients who were grounded immediately began to respond with improvement in HRV and this improved heart function continued to get better and better and better, cumulatively, for the entire 40 minutes the patients were grounded.

 

My suggesting is the same as last week — sleep grounded and you not only support deeper, better, more restorative sleep to support your heart’s health, but grounding immediately goes to work directly on your cardiac function to support improved heart rate variability.

 

And the positive effects continue to accumulate over time, so spending as much time grounded as possible is preferred.  If you are going to lay in bed for hours and hours and hours each night, make those hours grounded and you will be supporting heart health, metabolic health, mental health, whole body health.

Have any cardiac risk factors, or a family history of cardiac disease, or know anyone who does?

Make sure grounding is a part of their health care routine and that good quality sleep is maximized to reduce stress on the heart and decrease future risk of cardiac disease.  Do both at the same time by sleeping grounded and your body will thank you.

 

For more articles I’ve written on sleep health, click over to read:

 

 

And to start healing every single one of these conditions and support the longevity of your cardiovascular system, start sleeping grounded now.

Here’s how.

 

 

 

xoxoxo, Laura

 

P.S. Want more articles about heart health?

I’ve got you covered: