It’s no secret that a bad night’s sleep is a hazard to your health—and not just when you get behind the wheel of your car the next morning.
The frightening fact is that chronic sleeplessness can set off a deadly domino trail of life-threatening problems. From weight gain and metabolic dysfunction… all the way to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
But here’s an even scarier fact: You don’t have to be a full-blown insomniac to face the dire consequences of sleep deprivation. Because according to at least one recent study, even mild sleep problems could land you in hot water.
A higher risk of stroke, even after 7 hours’ sleep
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center looked at the blood pressure and sleep habits of 323 healthy women. As you might expect, mild sleep problems (like poor sleep quality or having trouble falling asleep) were nearly three times as common as more severe disruptions, like sleep apnea.
Unfortunately, it seems they’re nearly as dangerous, too. Results showed that women with mild sleep problems were significantly more likely to suffer from high blood pressure—even when they were clocking seven to nine hours of shut-eye per night.
And it’s NO coincidence.
When researchers examined the women’s endothelial cells—that is, the cells that form the lining of your blood vessels—they discovered heart-disease linked inflammatory proteins.
This means that even the mildest bedtime struggles are capable of setting off a lethal cascade of vascular inflammation. And if you’re not taking your sleep troubles seriously, you could be at higher risk of stroke (not to mention a whole slew of other health problems) because of it.
Don’t try to solve sleep problems with “killer” pills
It’s crystal clear that quality sleep is VITAL to good health. And even the smallest losses will sneak up on you in a HUGE way. In fact, untreated chronic sleep problems can KILL.
But if you turn to conventional medicine for the solution, you’ll likely be leaping out of the pot and right into the flames. Because most docs will hand you a prescription for sleeping pills and send you on your way.
Only trouble is sleeping pills aren’t very effective. According to research, in many cases, they lead to less than a half an hour of extra sleep. And the price for those few extra minutes of snooze time can be steep. In fact, they could even put you in an early grave too.
Among the more “mild” side effects of sleeping pills are sleep eating, wild dreams, uncontrollable shaking, and memory problems.
But that’s not the worst of it. In some cases, these pills are associated with heart problems and cancer. And if you’re a senior, your risk of dying skyrockets FOUR TIMES after being on them for just two and a half years.
Simple strategies for easier, sounder sleep
But don’t panic. There’s good news too. Mild sleep problems are, more often than not, simple to tackle. And for many folks all it takes to fall asleep—and stay asleep—like clockwork, are a few simple tweaks to your routine…
- Mind your night lights: Your pineal gland releases the sleep hormone melatonin in response to darkness. Blue light from televisions, tablet screens, cell phones, and even your bedside clock can disrupt these natural cues. And that disruption can leave you struggling to fall asleep. Shut electronics down two hours before bedtime, and snuggle up with an old-fashioned paper book instead.
- Get plenty of sunshine: On the flip side, you’re going to want to get plenty of natural light during the day. This will help to keep your body’s natural sleep cycles on track. So throw open your shades in the morning, and squeeze in as much sunshine as you can throughout the day. Then say goodnight to your sleep problems as you effortlessly slip off to sleep at night.
- Exercise regularly: Working up a sweat will help you to manage any sleep-robbing stress that’s keeping you up at night. But it’s also one of the most reliable ways to keep your body’s natural circadian rhythms in step. So this is one case where you should make time whenever you can. Luckily, research shows that even late-night exercise won’t interfere with sleep quality. But ultimately, earlier workouts are better for all-day blood pressure control.
- Supplement for extra sleep support: A melatonin supplement can be a great short-term solution for getting your sleep schedule back on track. But it’s not the only option for sleep problems. Other safe, natural supplements can help make bedtime a breeze—from a simple calcium-magnesium combo to herbal sleep promoters such as passion flower and valerian root.
Ignoring chronic sleep problems can be hazardous to your health. Left untreated they can raise your risk for dangerous and even deadly diseases.
And too many sleepless nights can send your blood pressure soaring and your stroke risk climbing. Commit to doing something to solve your sleep problems 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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