Getting enough sleep is important for good heart health, an expert says.
"Without enough sleep, there is an increase in blood pressure and stress
hormones, lower glucose [blood sugar] tolerance and weight gain," Dr Alan
Gertler, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of
Alabama at Birmingham, said in a university news release. "All of these factors
can increase the risk of coronary artery disease."
The ideal amount of sleep is between six and eight hours a night, he
Sleep deprivation (fewer than six hours of sleep per night) "can lead to
elevated C-reactive protein levels, which may be a marker of inflammation of the
endothelial lining of the arteries, which can increase the risk of
arteriosclerosis," Gertler noted.
Sleep apnea, a common problem, is another sleep-related issue that can lead
to heart trouble, he said.
The disrupted breathing that is characteristic of sleep apnoea decreases the
amount of oxygen in your blood, Gertler said. "As a result, sleep is interrupted
through the night, and the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, cardiac
arrhythmias and stroke increase," Gertler added.
People who have sleep problems should discuss the issue with their primary
care doctor, he advised.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about sleep and sleep