Peanut butter and jelly. Bacon and eggs. A horse and carriage.
Some things just seem to belong together. And the same is true for good sleep and a healthy heart.
Because, as the saying goes, you can’t have one without the other.
And if you’re a regular Healthier Talk reader that won’t come as a surprise. After all, I’ve written to you many times about how critical sleep is to your heart health.
Not getting ENOUGH shuteye is a virtual recipe for hardening of your arteries, for example.
If you regularly clock in at under six hours your risk shoots up by 27 percent. But if that sleep is of poor quality the picture is even worse. Your risk for stiff-as-a-board arteries shoots up to 34 percent.
But now disturbing new research has revealed there’s another sleep habit that’s like poison for your heart.
It can send your risk for stroke, heart failure, and heart disease through the roof. And yet, up until now it’s been mostly ignored.
According to the new study, it’s not just lack of sleep and poor sleep we need to worry about. It turns out the REGULARITY of your sleep is vital for a healthy heart too.
In other words, irregular sleep patterns could be just as dangerous for your heart as burning the midnight oil or tossing and turning all night.
Irregular sleep patterns send heart risk soaring
For the new study, the team crunched sleep data from almost 2,000 folks with heart disease.
Each of the volunteers wore a sleep-tracking wrist band for week-long sessions to establish sleep patterns over four years. And then the numbers were adjusted for any outside factors which could affect the results.
The researchers uncovered a disturbing pattern hiding in the data.
Folks whose nightly sleep patterns varied by more than two hours over a week were a stunning 2.2 times more likely to have had a major heart event occur during than their peers.
But it wasn’t just variations in the amount of overall sleep that raised a red flag. Sticking to a regular bedtime window had a HUGE impact too.
Folks whose turn-in times varied by over 90 minutes had DOUBLE the risk for a significant heart event as those volunteers whose heads hit the pillow within the same half an hour window every night.
And those heart events were serious. Nearly 100 of the participants suffered a stroke, heart failure, or developed heart disease during the study. And some died from their heart complications.
In other words, sleep patterns matter and setting a regular bedtime and STICKING to it is vital.
4 shuteye hacks to reset your sleep patterns
If you’re an irregular sleeper, it’s time to change your habits. And that’s especially true if you have any other risks for heart problems.
But knowing it and doing it are two different things. So HOW do you change your habits? These tips for resetting your sleep patterns can help…
1. Set it and stick it:
The first tip is also the most obvious one. Set a specific bedtime AND a wake-up time and STICK to them. And that means on the weekends too. It may be tough at first but think of it as training your body for healthy sleep. After a while, you’ll find your body is anticipating bedtime, and you’ll start feeling drowsy and ready for rest. And waking up will become easier too.
2. Ditch the digital:
Staring at your smartphone, tablet, PC, or even your TV too late into the evening can knock your circadian rhythm out of whack and throw off your sleep patterns. Which can make falling asleep and staying asleep difficult. So turn off the digital devices two hours before your set bedtime and switch to reading or another unplugged activity until it’s time to turn in.
3. Seek the light:
Just like digital light too late at night can keep you awake not ENOUGH light in the morning can make it hard to wake up. So when you wake up in the morning turn on LOTS of lamps and open your curtains or shades to let the natural light in. If you have the option, step outside for a few minutes with your morning coffee or tea and soak up some sun to really get your juices flowing. This will help you adjust to your new sleep patterns.
4. Sleep supplements:
When you are retraining your body for consistent sleep you might find you need a bit of extra help. Natural sleep supplements can lend a hand until your new sleep patterns become a regular habit. Melatonin, L-theanine, passion flower, and valerian root supplements are all excellent temporary options to consider.
Irregular sleep habits could be silently ruining your heart health. Don’t let them. Try these four shuteye hacks and reset your sleep patterns starting TONIGHT.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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