10 VITALITY Winter 2022 Sleep better for a healthier heart To reduce your chance of getting heart disease —the nation’s No. 1 killer—you probably know you’re supposed to exercise regularly and fill your plate with veggies and fruit, whole grains, fish, lean meat, and nuts and seeds. But did you know that getting enough quality sleep is as important for your heart health as eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising? IFYOU DON’T SNOOZE,YOU LOSE It’s true. Sleeping less than seven hours each night may raise your risk of health problems that can lead to heart disease, including: » High blood pressure. During sleep, your blood pressure naturally decreases. Staying awake longer means your blood pressure stays higher for longer. » Type 2 diabetes. A lack of quality sleep is linked to poor blood sugar control, which can help lead to type 2 diabetes and its complications. » Obesity. Too little sleep may affect the part of the brain that controls hunger. When you don’t sleep well, you are more likely to eat more. Sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea—when your airway gets blocked repeatedly during sleep, causing you to stop breathing briefly and wake up abruptly throughout the night—and insomnia—characterized by trouble falling or staying asleep—can also increase your risk of developing heart problems. TAKE BACKTHE NIGHT For your heart’s sake, aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Adopting the following steps, which are the cornerstone of good sleep hygiene, can help put you on the road to dreamland. » Stick to a sleep schedule . Hit the sack at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including weekends and when you’re traveling. » Wear yourself out. Getting plenty of exercise during the day can pay off at bedtime. » Know the risks of alcohol. Alcohol is a sleep thief. Although it might make you drowsy, it can cause you to wake up hours later. » Put your screens to bed. The blue light from digital devices can make it tough to fall asleep. If you like to read on your phone or tablet before bed, use a blue-light filter. If you still feel tired during your waking hours for more than two or three weeks, see your primary care provider. Sources: American Academy of Sleep Medicine; American Heart Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institute on Aging HEART HEALTH REST RIGHT FORYOUR HEART Need a provider? Go to citizensmemorial.com/search/ providers to find one.