Sleep disorders linked to heart disease and stroke

By June Shannon Heart News   |   14th Mar 2019

On World Sleep Day we look at the impact of sleep disorders on your heart

We spend a third of our life asleep and today (Friday, 15 March) is World Sleep Day; an annual global call to action about the importance of sleep.

As an adult getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night is one of the best things you can do for both your mental and physical health and well being. Children will need more sleep depending on their age. Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep is known to have a significant negative impact on our health in the long and short term.

Next day effects of poor-quality sleep include poor attention span, memory recall and learning. Longer term effects are being studied, but poor-quality sleep or sleep deprivation has been associated with significant health difficulties including heart disease, diabetes, depression and obesity.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is a common sleep disorder which has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation. Left untreated, OSA may lead to heart disease, stroke and vascular dementia.

"Its important that people with signs and symptoms of sleep apnoea get a check-up usually requiring overnight sleep studies. If diagnosed, this can be treated and the associated risk reduced,"

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director, Irish Heart Foundation

According to the Irish Thoracic Society, “Apnoea” means temporary cessation or stopping of breathing. In obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS), frequent pauses of breathing occur during sleep due to closure of the air passage in the pharynx. OSAS is diagnosed by sleep monitoring.

Heavy snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness are common symptoms of OSAS. Others include, morning headaches, impaired memory and concentration during the day and heavy snoring, restless sleep, waking up abruptly accompanied by choking or gasping at night.

Commenting Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director of the Irish Heart Foundation said, “There is a lot of evidence that sleep apnoea is associated with an increased risk of Cardiovascular disease, hypertension and atrial fibrillation. Its therefore important that people with signs and symptoms of sleep apnoea get a check-up usually requiring overnight sleep studies. If diagnosed, this can be treated and the associated risk reduced.”

Created and hosted by World Sleep Society, World Sleep Day is an internationally recognized awareness event bringing researchers, health professionals and patients together to recognise sleep and its important impact on our health.

10 Commandments for a good night’s sleep for adults (The World Sleep Society)

1. Fix a bedtime and an awakening time.
2. If you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep.
3. Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion 4 hours before bedtime and do not smoke.
4. Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.
5. Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed is acceptable.
6. Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.
7. Use comfortable bedding.
8. Find a comfortable temperature setting for sleeping and keep the room well ventilated.
9. Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.
10. Reserve the bed for sleep and sex. Don’t use the bed as an office, workroom or recreation room.

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Related Topics

blood pressure heart attack heart disease high blood pressure obstructive sleep apnoea sleep sleep disorders stroke World Sleep Day

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