The Best Bedtime for Your Heart

What are the benefits of sleeping?

Preventing heart disease can also improve your overall health, especially if you’re a woman of childbearing age. Obese women may also benefit by sleeping better. Being overweight can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and early-onset Type 2 diabetes, while other risk factors, such as sleep apnea, may increase the risk of CVD, including stroke.

Most of the CVD risk factors are related to obesity, so it’s important to get the weight off, and sleep more. One study that reviewed all the randomized controlled trials published in the medical literature over a 25-year period, found that people who slept six or more hours a night were less likely to have a CVD event or die from CVD.

Setting up your sleep practice

Your sleep schedule is a huge determinant of how healthy and happy you’ll feel. And that affects more than your physical health—even your brain is affected by how well you sleep. Even though your brain can’t wake up completely, it can wake up slowly and become alert and focused only as you prepare for a big day. In other words, you’re not going to get your best performance—at school, at work, or at home—if you can’t get off to a good start. By following these steps, you’ll be able to get a more restful night’s sleep.

A practical example of how to get a good night’s sleep

Get your heart pumping!

That’s not just some old school military, tough love motivational cliché, it’s a proven fact that exercise can help to improve your overall health, particularly for people suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

People who exercise regularly have reduced rates of heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular-related death, and, although vigorous exercise, such as jogging or playing basketball for hours on end, can be physically and mentally demanding, it’s a feasible way to help you to improve your cardiovascular health.

A practical example of how to get a good morning’s sleep

Whether you’re a night owl or a morning person, you probably know that getting a good night’s sleep is the key to a healthy heart.

But the best bedtime for your heart depends on more than just whether you can drift off to sleep right away or end up tossing and turning for a couple of hours before you fall asleep.

A team led by researchers at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) analyzed the association between short sleep duration and cardiovascular outcomes, such as heart attack, stroke, and sudden death, and long sleep duration and cardiovascular outcomes, such as stroke, heart failure, and death from any cause.

They examined data on 19 studies involving more than 11,500 adults (average age around 51) who were followed for up to 15 years.

How to get comfortable in bed

By Rachael Denhollander

Photo courtesy of Simplisto Images

Not all night’s sleep is the same. In fact, they often are not. Even the most efficient sleeper requires help from some method of sleep-maintenance. Personally, sleep-maintenance means checking in with my own body and brain to keep the night from spinning out of control.

I have known for a while that I need to have a bit of time after I get into bed before I fall asleep. I need a little bit of time to go into a relaxed state and connect with myself and to have a sense of where I am, who I am, and how I feel before any thoughts will slip into my mind. Some people need a lot of sleep before they can relax and fall asleep.

A practical example of how to fall asleep

The Best Bedtime for Your Heart: How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Q: I feel exhausted at the end of my day and have a hard time falling asleep. Can you offer me any advice on how I can overcome this?

A: The key to falling asleep is consistency, especially at bedtime. Try to establish a consistent sleep and wake time. This will be especially helpful if you have other responsibilities, such as a job, children, grandchildren, and a full schedule.

Trying to compensate with naps on your lunch break or other early morning distractions, like staying up late or waking early, only compounds your fatigue and can lead to serious health problems.

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