Why healthy sleep is important for the heart

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Healthy sleep acts like a drug: During a night’s sleep, heart rate and blood pressure drop. In addition, fat and sugar metabolism are optimized, the immune system strengthened, wound healing accelerated and cellular repair processes initiated.

Conversely, lack of sleep has serious consequences for the body – especially for the heart: “If restorative sleep takes place at the wrong time or regularly for too short a time, the consequences for health can be serious and numerous diseases can result, including serious cardiovascular diseases -Systems”, warns heart specialist Prof. Dr. medical dr phil. Anil-Martin Sinha from the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Heart Foundation and Chief Physician of the Department of Cardiology at the Sana Klinikum Hof ​​in the current issue of HERZ today.

The negative effects on the heart and circulation are particularly pronounced in sleep-related breathing disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea.

While we are asleep, the brain is highly active: “Memory is formed and strengthened in the various phases of sleep,” explains Prof. Sinha. Memories would be strengthened and superfluous deleted. “There is a close connection between the performance of the brain and the quality of sleep,” says the cardiologist. However, restful sleep is extremely important not only for cognitive but also for physical regeneration.

Because while we sleep, cellular repair processes are switched on and certain metabolic processes are activated and optimized – such as fat and sugar metabolism. In addition, the blood pressure is kept constant over the long term, which has an effect on the health of the heart and circulatory system. Conversely, chronic lack of sleep can trigger inflammatory processes in the body: Aggressive oxygen molecules, so-called “free radicals”, are formed, which attack cells and tissue and, among other things, promote arteriosclerosis, one of the main causes of many cardiovascular diseases.

Nocturnal breathing pauses: caution if sleep apnea is suspected

A sleep disorder is when a person has trouble falling or staying asleep at least three times a week for a period of a month or more. Psychological, neurological or other physical illnesses are often behind a sleep disorder. One of the most common causes is sleep apnea, which is when you stop breathing while you sleep. Typical symptoms are snoring and daytime sleepiness. Breathing pauses at night have serious consequences: Cells and organs are no longer sufficiently supplied with oxygen. “The body then goes into an alarm state, blood pressure and heart rate increase,” explains Prof. Sinha. If sleep apnea is suspected, those affected should definitely see a doctor, advises the cardiologist and warns: “Untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of heart attack, cardiac insufficiency and stroke and shortens life expectancy.”

Tips for a better sleep

In addition to physical causes, stress, heavy meals in the evening or an unhealthy lifestyle in general can also promote sleep disorders. If you have trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night, you should only eat light, protein-rich meals in the evening and not drink coffee for at least four hours before going to bed. Other tips for a healthy sleep include:

Go to bed around the same time every night. The time you fall asleep and wake up should not vary by more than 30 minutes.

The bedroom should be cool, quiet and darkened – 18 degrees is ideal. Fresh air also ensures better sleep.

Regular sleep rituals such as breathing exercises, listening to quiet music or meditation help to calm down and fall asleep better.

Avoid electronic devices such as computers, smartphones or tablets late in the evening.

Regular exercise improves sleep, but not if you’re active late at night. Therefore, shift your physical activity to the time before 6 p.m.

Article put online by: / Doris Holler /



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