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Give Your Heart a Rest – Penn Medicine

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Give Your Heart a Rest – Penn Medicine




Did you know that more than 50 million U.S. adults are consistently not getting enough sleep or have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea? Most adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep; however, it varies per person. If you find yourself struggling to stay awake and relying on that afternoon coffee to make it through the day, you’re probably not getting enough rest.

A study published by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) found that having too little or too much sleep may have harmful effects on your heart health. The study found that getting less than 6 hours of sleep each night was linked to an increased likelihood of heart attacks and strokes. 

“There is strong evidence that associates lack of sleep with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease,” says Saum Shamini-Noori, MD, medical director at Penn Cardiology Chestnut Hill

The ACC study also found that sleeping more than 8 hours or having poor quality sleep was linked with a higher chance of having coronary artery disease.

What is Sleep Apnea?

According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 5 adults suffer from at least a mild form of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person may pause their breathing 5 to 30 times per hour or more, causing them to wake and gasp for air. This condition is caused by tissues in the back of the throat collapsing, which narrows the airway and reduces oxygen to the lungs. These episodes can result in an unrestful night sleep and can lead to high blood pressure, arrhythmia and heart failure.

Tips to Sleep Better at Night

“There are many things we can do to improve our heart health, including eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, but getting a good night’s sleep is also a key factor for maintaining a healthy heart,” says Dr. Shamini-Noori.

And remember – having good sleeping habits replenishes energy, boosts your immunity and reduces stress! We’ve assembled a list of tips to help you get a good night’s sleep:

  • Get regular physical activity during the day. Avoid exercising before bed, because this causes your adrenaline to pump and can keep you awake
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages in the evening
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Develop a bedtime routine, such as dimming the lights, taking a warm bath or having some decaffeinated herbal tea
  • Keep a consistent bedtime and try not to vary it on the weekend
  • Avoid looking at your phone before bed

If you’re having trouble sleeping, speak to your doctor and check out the Penn Sleep Centers. They provide state-of-the-art diagnostic services and treatments for sleep disorders.

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