(Natural News) Sleep helps your body recover when you’re sick. It also helps you recover from a long day at work. According to an interesting study, good quality sleep can also improve your heart health.
The study was conducted by researchers from Tufts University and the Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research in Madrid, Spain. Their findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Sleep quality and cardiovascular health
Good quality sleep can boost a person’s physical and mental health. It also keeps your brain sharp and focused throughout the day. In the study, researchers found that both sleep duration and quality can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
They studied medical data from at least 4,000 Spanish participants who had an average age of 46. About two-thirds of the participants were male, and none of them had a heart disease diagnosis when the study began. The researchers focused on the prevalence and progression of the vascular issues that can cause heart disease.
The volunteers underwent 3-D heart ultrasounds and cardiac CT scans to check for heart disease and atherosclerosis throughout their body. The researchers also examined the participants for vascular lesions.
Furthermore, they instructed the volunteers to wear a sleep actigraph, a device that records sleep patterns. They found that those who got less than six hours of sleep a day had a 27 percent increased risk of atherosclerosis compared with volunteers who slept seven to eight hours.
The researchers also found that poor sleep quality is linked to a 34 percent higher atherosclerosis risk. The volunteers who reported getting less sleep regularly admitted that they also drank alcohol and caffeinated beverages regularly throughout the day.
Not surprisingly, good quality sleep even of limited duration offered more health benefits than poor quality sleep of longer duration. The researchers warned that getting too much sleep, or more than eight hours every night, is just as bad for your health as sleep deprivation. Sleeping too much is linked to a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis. (Related: Too little or too much is bad for you: Get enough sleep to boost your heart health.)
Tips for improving your sleep quality
To improve your sleep quality and overall well-being, follow these simple tips.
- Limit your caffeine intake. Don’t drink coffee, energy drinks, or strong tea at night. Caffeine can interfere with the process of falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Choose a soothing beverage instead, like herbal tea or warm milk.
- Exercise regularly. Walking can help relieve the stress that you may have built up throughout a particularly tiring day. However, you should void vigorous exercise like running before bedtime because it may keep you awake.
- Start a relaxing hobby before bedtime, such as reading or listening to calming music.
- Keep your bedroom comfortable. The room should be cool, dark, and quiet, without any distractions like your phone, electronic devices, or a television.
- Go to bed and wake up at around the same time every day. This helps your body get used to your sleeping and waking cycle.
Health experts often treat heart disease with medications, dietary changes, and exercise. But this study shows that sleep duration and quality should also be taken into account when helping patients recover from cardiovascular conditions.