How Does Sleep Affect Your Health?
A good night’s sleep is often one of the first things to go when people begin to feel pressed for time due to school, work, or family obligations. The reason for this is usually that many people view sleep as a luxury and think that the benefits of limiting the hours they spend asleep, such as working on an assignment or spending time with their loved ones, outweigh the costs. They often overlook both the potential long-term consequences of insufficient sleep and the significant impact sleep-related health problems can have on their life.
That’s why, in this brief article, we’ll be reviewing how sleep impacts multiple aspects of your health, including your risk for heart disease and other health conditions. For a patient advocate and nutrition-focused cardiologist in Tampa, FL, schedule an appointment with Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC.
Sleep Deprivation Has Been Linked to an Increased Risk of Obesity
For those of us trying to lose weight or maintain a weight within the healthy range, it should be of interest that sleep deprivation has been linked to greater body fat and an increased rate of obesity. The explanation behind this correlation is somewhat simple. Typically, the goal for weight loss is to decrease body fat while retaining as much muscle mass as possible. Put simply, not obtaining an adequate amount of sleep per night can determine how much fat is lost as well as how much muscle mass you’re able to retain on a calorie-restricted diet.
There are several reasons behind this phenomenon, including changes in metabolism, appetite, and food selection. Studies have shown that sleep restriction increases levels of certain appetite hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin. A combination of higher levels of ghrelin and lower levels of leptin, commonly found in those with lower levels of sleep, could change a person’s appetite, making them more likely to overeat and fail to adhere to their diet.
Sleep Deficiency Associated With Increased Risk of Heart Disease
During the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep stages, your heart rate slows, your breathing stabilizes, and your blood pressure drops, all of which can reduce stress on your heart and allow it to recover from strain that occurs during the waking hours. Without sufficient sleep, you aren’t spending enough time in the deep stages of NREM sleep that benefit your heart. As a result, chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to a wide variety of serious heart problems, including diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart attack.
One way to think about it is that sleep deprivation contributes to atherosclerosis, a process in which plaque forms and collects in the arteries. Hypertension then strains the arteries, making them considerably less effective at bringing blood to the heart and supplying the body with the oxygen it needs to function properly. Insufficient sleep may also make it easier for blockages to occur, increasing the risk for strokes or heart attacks.
How to Improve Your Sleep Habits
Almost everyone has difficulty sleeping once in a while; however, if occasional episodes of poor sleep have escalated into an unhealthy nighttime routine, it’s time to consider whether your habits are to blame for your lack of sleep. There are several things you can do to improve the amount of sleep you’re getting each night, such as establishing an evening routine, avoiding excess caffeine, and getting enough physical activity throughout the day. Your body and your mind will thank you. For more information on how your daily habits could be contributing to your heart health, be sure to reach out to a cardiologist that specializes in interventional cardiology in Tampa, like Dr. Popat.
To consult Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC, the best cardiologist in Tampa, please call (813) 344-0934 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.
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