You know you should probably be getting more sleep, for reasons ranging from “being less of a grumpy jerk” to improving your focus at work—and you can add heart health to the list of reasons why you should prioritize your rest. Sleep is a crucial factor for cardiovascular health. Last year, an article the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) proposed an update to AHA’s Life’s Simple 7 prescription, which meant to capture “the seven most important predictors of heart health and also a pathway for achieving ideal cardiovascular health.”
The original prescription contains four behavior changes (don’t smoke, maintain a health weight, eat properly and be active) and three biometric measurements (blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.) The article added sleep to that prescription, finding that “CVH (cardiovascular health) scores that include sleep health predicted CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk in older US adults.”
The Center for Disease Control says most of us need about 7 hours of shut-eye a night, but roughly a third of American adults claim they are not hitting this target, putting them at a higher risk for a host of health problems, including high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
In one article published in The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research, shift workers—who often get less than an ideal amount of sleep—highlight the cardiovascular connection.
The article reported that recurring “decreased sleep duration and physiological changes contribute to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and increased cardiovascular disease risk in shift workers.” Further, the “circadian misalignment” brought on by shift work “may potentiate cardiometabolic risk” in shift workers with obstructive sleep apnea.
“In short: people who get less sleep suffer from more cardiovascular complications,” writes Brady Holmer, a researcher at Examine.com who is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Florida, where he’s researching the effects of exercise and sleep deprivation on cardiovascular health. Holmer last spoke to GQ in the past about stacks, combinations of supplements and habits meant to improve health and fitness, and it’s clear that a good night’s sleep should be part of your stack.