July 17, 2019 - Wellness
From the American Heart Association
Getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night often doesn't take priority in our busy lives—but it should. One in seven Americans don't get enough sleep, which can take a toll on the body over time. Ample quality sleep could be the key to unlocking a healthier you. It can influence your eating habits, mood, memory, and even your heart health.
Snoring can get a little annoying, especially for the person listening to it. But when a snorer repeatedly stops breathing for brief moments, it can lead to cardiovascular problems and potentially be life-threatening.
This condition is known as sleep apnea, in which the person may stop breathing five to 30+ times per hour. These episodes wake the sleeper as they gasp for air. It prevents restful sleep and is associated with high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke, and heart failure.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and stroke is also a leading cause of death and disability. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for both conditions.
One in five adults suffer from at least mild sleep apnea. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. This is when the weight on the upper chest and neck restricts a person's airflow.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with obesity, which is also a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Besides obesity contributing to sleep apnea, sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea, in an ongoing cycle, can lead to further obesity.
Central sleep apnea (CSA) is far less prevalent than OSA. In CSA, the brain doesn't send regular signals to the diaphragm to contract and expand. There is limited snoring with CSA, but this condition has been associated with brain stem stroke because the brainstem is responsible for regulating a person's breathing.
Sleep apnea can be treated through continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP can yield fast results by keeping the body's breathing passages open and oxygen flowing.
To decrease your own risk of cardiovascular disease, the American Heart Association encourages you to make some small adjustments to your sleep habits that could make a big difference in your overall health.
1. Add stress-relieving exercise to your day. Walking counts!
2. Keep your phone and other electronic devices away from your bed.
3. Set a bedtime for each person in the family.
4. Start your morning with a healthy habit, like a quick walk or moment of gratitude.
5. Add a 20-minute power nap to your afternoon.