Sleep and your heart

By Maeve O'Keeffe Heart News   |   5th Apr 2023

The benefits of a good night’s sleep cannot be over-stated.

Last weekend, the clocks went forward, meaning that we now get to enjoy brighter evenings but, if you were feeling a little more tired than usual on Sunday, you weren’t alone!

The benefits of a good night’s sleep cannot be over-stated; they include better concentration, memory, learning, and mood. It is recommended that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Good quality sleep is very important for our physical health, including heart health. Previous research has linked poor sleep habits with higher risk of heart disease, obesity, increased blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

Most recently, a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association looking at the sleeping patterns of 2,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who had irregular sleep schedules were more likely to have hardened arteries than those with more regular sleep patterns. Participants in the study who fell asleep at different times every night and slept an inconsistent number of hours were found to be more likely to develop atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis is a buildup of plaque on the inner lining of arteries, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

It is recommended that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.

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For many of us, the idea of getting the coveted eight hours of regular sleep every night might sound challenging. However, there are some simple tips you can keep in mind to improve your sleep hygiene:

Fatigue is one of the symptoms of heart failure.

Although a good night’s sleep is important for your heart, if you are constantly feeling tired, even after 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night, it might be a sign of a more serious issue. Fatigue is one of the symptoms of heart failure, when the heart is not working as well as it should be. It is normal to feel a little tired after a long day of work, but when the tiredness and lack of energy is constant, it is best to contact your GP.

Similarly, many stroke patients suffer from fatigue, as well as changes in their sleep patterns in the months following their stroke. This can be frustrating, because sleep is an important part of recovery. Post-stroke fatigue can feel different for everyone. Some people report feeling physically exhausted, whereas others feel mentally drained. If you think you have fatigue, it can be helpful to speak with a GP to address ways to manage the fatigue.

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