You are TWICE as likely to die of a heart attack if you live sleep deprived.
Yes, those who sleep less than 6 hours per night develop Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) and are likely to die prematurely because of this.
In recent years, scientists have seen how sleep helps you and your heart function best.
1. During sleep, your heart rate drops allowing your heart to rest and repair itself. Its muscular walls and circulatory system need a chance to recover. The heart's arteries and veins are responsible for keeping it supplied with oxygen and nutrients and ridding it of toxic waste products. If this cannot take place then this system becomes calcified or hardened, the heart becomes less healthy and less efficient at doing its job - keeping you alive!
2. During sleep, your blood pressure drops too... which is why you feel whoozy if you jump out of bed. It is thought that fewer hours with a sustained lower blood pressure when you are sleeping means a gradual increase in systemic blood pressure when you are awake. This leads to chronic high blood pressure and its detrimental effects.
3. Sleeping well decreases your stress levels... yes, we can actually measure your stress levels with a blood test! C-reactive protein is found in your blood and is an indicator of inflammation. When your body is not coping it will have high CRP levels and less chance to heal itself.
4. Sleeping well, means less food cravings and a healthier heart. High levels of stress hormones and poor sleep sends the body looking for salty, fatty foods. Your system gets clogged with fatty deposits and the heart muscle has to work harder to pump the blood around the body. Long-term, this results in central obesity which in turn hurts the heart and your ability to sleep well.
What is clear is that sleep and the heart have an intimate relationship. Many beneficial exchanges happen while you sleep, so get snoozing and protect your ticker!