Irregular Sleep and Heart Disease

Irregular Sleep and Heart Disease

What you can do now

A new study links irregular sleep to an increased risk of heart disease. Follow these tips to unlock better consistency.

It’s no secret that sleep is an essential part of our daily lives. Sleep is the designated time for our bodies to rest, recover, and regenerate – all of which are necessary in order to keep our bodies doing their job. 

Unfortunately, sleep struggles are common. Chances are good you’ve experienced a rough night of sleep a few times in your life, maybe even more. It is estimated that between 10-30% of adults find themselves battling chronic insomnia. What’s worse, challenges arise more frequently with age — up to 50% of older adults report poor quality sleep. 

And, as it turns out, there are some seriously negative effects of not getting enough sleep that extends beyond just fatigue. 

Sleep Irregularity and Heart Disease

A recent Vanderbilt University Medical Center study found that sleep irregularity can increase the risk of atherosclerosis, aka heart disease. The study involved over 2,000 older and diverse participants who were monitored for one week. 

Researchers determined from this study that those who suffered more with the regularity of their sleep (waking up a lot) were at a higher risk of:

  • Buildup of coronary artery calcium

  • Plaque in carotid arteries

  • Higher levels of systemic atherosclerosis

  • Stiffness in blood vessels 

The correlation between heart disease and disruption of the body’s circadian rhythm is thought to come down to the fact that nearly all of the body’s key cardiovascular functions are regulated by the genes of our circadian clock. These functions include:

  • Heart rate

  • Blood pressure

  • Vascular tone (determines resistance of blood flow via circulation)

  • Endothelial functions (the relaxation and contraction of vessels, the control of blood clotting, and more)

When sleep is interrupted and the circadian rhythm of the body is negatively affected, it can impact the vital cardiovascular functions above. And it can open the door to another set of potential issues:

  • Chronic inflammation

  • Shifts in glucose metabolism

  • Excess activation of the sympathetic nervous system

  • Increase in arterial pressures

What do these all have in common? They’re prerequisites to the progression of heart disease. 

Other Risks of Disrupted Sleep

The importance of a good night’s sleep extends far beyond decreasing your risk of heart disease. Let’s take a look at some of the other negative side effects you may face with regularly disrupted sleep. 

Chronic Disease

In addition to heart disease, a consistent lack of sleep can also put you at risk of chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, and cancer.

Mental Health

Have you ever noticed how your brain feels when you don’t get enough sleep? Probably not great. And when your sleep is regularly disrupted, feelings of depression and anxiety can be exacerbated. 

Impaired Immunity

Our bodies need plenty of sleep in order to stay healthy and strong. When you aren’t getting that sleep, your body becomes weak which results in an immune system that can’t do its job of keeping you healthy. 

Poor Performance

If you’ve ever worked out after a bad night’s sleep you know it’s not something you want to make a regular occurrence. That’s because low-quality sleep can reduce your endurance, your strength, and your reaction time. 

Cognitive Issues

A sharp brain requires sleep. Without sufficient sleep, your memory, attention, and ability to make good decisions all suffer. 

4 Ways to Improve Your Sleep

Getting good sleep doesn’t have to be difficult. There are a number of things you can do to optimize your nighttime routine.  

1. No screens before bed.

Countless studies have shown that the blue light emitted from phones, computers, and televisions can interfere with sleep. Aim to stop using screens at least an hour before you plan to head to bed. Or, if you just have to watch that show, wear blue light-blocking glasses. 

2. Add in a sleep supplement.

Natural sleep aid supplements can be a lifesaver for those who struggle with getting a good night’s sleep. We created Peak Rest™ to optimize your circadian rhythm for deep, uninterrupted sleep that promotes whole-body recovery and rejuvenates the brain.  

3. Stick to a sleep schedule.

The occasional late night isn’t going to ruin your health, but in order to increase your chances of good, regular sleep, you want to try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Yes, that includes weekends, too. 

4. Exercise regularly.

Studies show that regular exercise helps improve your sleep. This certainly doesn’t mean you have to spend hours at the gym a day to get the sleep benefits. Even a brisk walk is a great form of exercise (that provides benefits far beyond sleep, too).