The America Heart Association recently updated its Life’s Essential 8 to include sleep as one of the key measures for improving and maintaining heart health. Prioritizing sleep is just as important as diet, exercise, and stopping smoking because it’s so important for preserving many aspects of our health and functioning. Conway Medical Center is shining the spotlight on sleep and why it is a major component of healthy living.
How much sleep do you need?
With busy schedules, sleep is easily put on the back burner to accommodate work, socialization, and other activities. However, a good night’s sleep should always be an essential part of your daily schedule. Adults should aim for an average of 7-9 hours every night with babies and kids needing even more.
Can I catch up on missed sleep?
There is no such thing as catching up on your sleep. Sleeping in on the weekends or sneaking in naps doesn’t count. While you may feel refreshed after a nap, the key to long term healthy sleep habits is consistency.
Make sure you keep your sleep schedule consistent, even on the weekends. Your healthy sleep patterns will have a lasting effect on your overall health.
Why is sleep important?
Every human needs sleep. It’s during this time of rest that the body restores and repairs itself. Your body uses sleep to repair and recover. Sleep impacts overall health as it helps you manage health factors such as weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes risks more effectively.
The American Heart Association highlights 5 benefits of sleep which are:
- Healing and repair of cells, tissues, and blood vessels
- Stronger immune system
- Improved mood and energy
- Better brain function including alertness decision-making, focus, learning, memory, reasoning and problem-solving
- Less risk of chronic disease
Some studies suggest that people over the age of 50 who get less than 5 hours of sleep a night raise their risk of developing multiple chronic diseases by 30%. Some of the risks from lack of sleep are cancer, dementia, heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and depression. If a person doesn’t get at least 7 hours of sleep, not only are they at risk for at least one of these comorbidities but may develop more than one.
Quantity AND quality matter when it comes to sleep
Healthy sleep is multifaceted. It goes beyond the number of hours. The quality of sleep you get is important too. Implementing a few simple measures can help you get the proper sleep your body needs.
- Be consistent. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on weekends.
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
- Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smartphones, from the bedroom.
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
- Exercising regularly during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
If you find that you are struggling to build healthy sleep patterns, speak with your primary care physician. Many common sleep disorders are linked to chronic conditions like heart disease. Some of these are restless leg syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and insufficient sleep syndrome.
- Is your sleep restless or disturbed?
- Do you feel exhausted upon rising in the morning?
- Do you need multiple daytime naps?
- Are you having problems with memory, learning or concentration?
- Do you have a history of hypertension?
- Do you feel chronically fatigued?
If you answered “yes” to any of these, your doctor may want to refer you to CMC Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine for a consultation or a sleep study. Our sleep specialists are the recognized experts in the Myrtle Beach area for evaluating and treating sleep disorders. Rest easier with the help of our experienced sleep disorders team.