Sleep problems and Heart diseases

People with conflicting work schedule, like shift workers and school-going teens, usually have frequent sleep disturbances. Regular disruption of their body clocks affects these people mentally, physically, and emotionally due to lack of sleep. Sleep often is the first thing that busy people squeeze out of their daily schedule. In particular, people who sleep poorly or give insufficient time to their sleep often end up with serious heart and related ailments.  People who sleep for five hours or less every night are at higher risk of developing high blood pressure or worsening of their BP readings. This is due to incomplete relaxation to heart and blood vessels in the vascular system that is normally required for health. It's believed that sleep also helps our blood regulate stress hormones and helps the nervous system remain healthy.

Over time, a lack of sleep hurts our ability to regulate stress hormones, leading to high blood pressure and chances of sudden cardiac arrest. Optimizing sleep, therefore, leads to better management of the body’s blood pressure and prevention against cardiac diseases. Another possible, treatable cause of lack of sleep contributing to high blood pressure is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder in which patients, especially those who snore, repeatedly stop and start breathing during sleep. OSA may be the cause, and it can increase your risk of high blood pressure, as well as heart problems and other health issues.  

There are certain measures to improve one's sleeping habits. 

  • First, one must allow self at least 8 hours of good quality uninterrupted sleep. With enough sleep each night, you're more likely to be relaxed, happier and productive during the daytime.

  • Fix up the same time to go to bed and wake up every day. For children too, make a set bedtime routine. Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weekends. Try to limit the difference to no more than an hour from the schedule. 

  • Use the hour before bed for quiet relaxation. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, from electronic devices like TV, Computers or Smartphones

  • Avoid nicotine (for example, cigarettes) and caffeine (including caffeinated soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate)as they both can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last up to 8 hours which can disturb your routine and can make it hard to sleep at night.

  • Avoid heavy meals and alcoholic drinks within a couple of hours of bedtime. You can have light snacks.

  • Spend at least some time outside every day and be physically active.

  • Keep your room quiet, cool, and dark or use a dim light if needed.

  • Taking a hot bath or use relaxation techniques like yoga also helps in good quality sleep

  • Consult a sleep specialist for excessive snoring or choking episodes in the night as they may be symptoms of Obstructive Sleep apnoea for which a sleep study may be done

 

Dr Puneet Khanna

Head- Department of Respiratory Medicine

 

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