Over the years, several studies have linked a lack of sleep with an increased risk of heart disease. In 2008, a Japanese study pointed out that getting less than 7.5 hours of sleep may increase heart disease risk in elderly people with high blood pressure. And in 2003 a study showed women who had 5 or less hours of sleep had an average of 39% increased risk of coronary heart disease compared to those with 8 hours of sleep.
The Sleep Foundation says that although the amount of sleep everyone requires varies depending on age, how much sleep debt you’ve accumulated, and just simply because sleep needs are individual, they say the average healthy adult needs 7-9 hours a night. So if you aren’t getting the amount of sleep you need, consider changing some of your habits to help improve your heart health as well as productivity, memory, and overall health.
8 healthy sleep habit tips:
Go to sleep at the same time. Your body goes through circadian rhythms, meaning it is programmed to be more sleepy at certain times and more alert at others. If you establish a regular time for bed, and stick to it even on the weekends, your body will be more likely to fall into the pattern of knowing when to be ready for sleep.
Create a bedtime routine. If you’ve ever raised a child, you know a bedtime routine is one of the major recommendations for a good night of sleep. The same practice carries into adulthood. Up to an hour before your regular bedtime, begin preparing your body for rest. Your routine can include reading, listening to relaxing music, getting your clothes or lunch ready for the next day, or simple hobbies—any consistent routine that lets your body know you are about to go to sleep.
Skip the TV and computer. The light that comes from the TV and computer has been proven to be stimulating. If you have trouble with sleep, avoid TV or the computer just before bed. If you regularly watch TV in bed to fall asleep, try going without it for a week or so, and instead participate in a relaxing routine as mentioned above. You very well may notice improved sleep!
Sleep in a relaxing environment. Set up your bedroom as an oasis of sleep. Be sure your bed is comfortable, your pillows are exactly as you like them, and your blankets are appropriately heavy or light for the temperature of the room. If loud noise often interrupts your sleep, try a fan or white noise machine. Be sure your room is dark and that any morning light that may make its way in too early is blocked by heavy curtains or shades. Just the idea of your bedroom should set your mind at ease.
Avoid napping if it interferes with sleep. You may experience a “circadian dip” naturally midafternoon and feel tired, but if you’ve found it difficult to fall asleep on days you take a nap, skip naps altogether. Remember that your body should reenergize once you get past that dip. If you feel extremely tired and don’t want to miss the opportunity to nap, keep it to a half hour and make sure it’s no later than early afternoon.
Eat no less than 2 hours before bedtime. Aside from a possible light low-sugar snack, keep your dinner at least 2 hours before you plan to go to bed. Remember, food is energy, and there’s no sense in re-energizing your body for sleep. Also avoid drinking too many liquids, as you don’t want to have to make trips to the bathroom at night if possible.
Exercise 20-30 minutes by early afternoon. Exercise is good for your heart anyway, but using up energy also promotes a good night’s sleep. Keep it to before early afternoon if you can, as you also don’t want to stimulate your body too close to bedtime.
Avoid alcohol, smoking, and caffeine. Although alcohol is thought to help relax your body, it has been shown to interfere with staying asleep. And nicotine and caffeine, as stimulants, do exactly what you’d expect: keep you awake. Even 12-14 hours after drinking caffeine, it still is present in your system, so especially if you have sleep problems, avoid it altogether.
Hopefully these tips help you to get a good night’s rest! Any other tips to share?