A lack of sleep has devastating effects on our heart
Heart problems are the leading cause of death and illness in the world. While a poor diet or limited exercise can be harmful, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of good sleeping habits on the health of the heart. Sleep provides time for the body to rejuvenate. During non-REM sleep your heart rate will slow down, your blood pressure drops and your breathing deepens. Your heart gets a chance to relax from the stress of the day.
Several studies* have found a link between sleep deprivation and increasing blood pressure. Staying alert longer than the recommended 15 – 17 hours a day involves a massive exertion of energy and puts a strain on your cardiovascular system.
WHAT IS NOCTURNAL DIPPING?
During a healthy night’s sleep your blood pressure will drop somewhere between 10 – 20%. Broken sleep, whether from sleep disruptions, a deficiency in the natural production of the sleep hormone melatonin or that last cup of coffee, stops this drop and can lead to overall hypertension (high blood pressure.)
While we may not notice the effects of hypertension in our day-to-day lives, the extended overuse of our heart can make us more susceptible to a stroke or heart attack.
BLOOD SUGAR IMBALANCE:
It isn’t just blood pressure that is affected by poor sleep hygiene, our blood sugar balance is directly tied to our production of the alertness hormone cortisol. When we are faced with a stressor, perceived or real, our brain produces cortisol to prepare us for a fight or flight response by flooding the body with ready-to-burn glucose and stopping the flow of insulin. In a stressful situation this is invaluable, however elevated levels of the alertness hormone cortisol regularly flooding the body with glucose over a long period of time can have harmful effects on our blood sugar levels;
- Weight Gain: High levels of the alertness hormone cortisol in low stress situations starves our cells of needed glucose, which then tells the brain that we need food and can lead to overeating and cravings for high-calorie foods.
- Diabetes: Insulin helps control our blood sugar levels and if we deny our bodies low-alert environments, like deep sleep, it is not able to perform its necessary task making us more susceptible to diabetes.
Sleep isn’t just something to pass the night hours, it is a necessity responsible for rejuvenating and invigorating your body for the next day. We here at Dreamers believe we all need to reclaim our right to a full night of sleep.
Photo credit: Matias Alonso Revelli