Not getting enough sleep, whether in Seattle or anywhere else, can harm heart

Cardiovascular disease indicators and sleep irregularity: A Multi-Ethnic Study.


Researchers have noticed a concerning trend: more heart attacks and strokes occur in the days after we switch to daylight saving time each spring. However, the American Heart Association, a global health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke, emphasizes that losing sleep at any time can be a significant risk factor for heart problems.

Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, a leading expert, underscores the importance of regularly getting a good night’s sleep. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep, while children need more depending on age. Unfortunately, up to 1 in 3 people don’t get enough sleep.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones highlights that the quantity and quality of sleep matter. Lack of sleep increases the risk of heart conditions like heart attacks and strokes and contributes to problems like depression, cognitive decline, and obesity.

Recent research in the Journal of the American Heart Association reveals that maintaining a consistent sleep schedule may help prevent heart disease. Sleeping at different times or having inconsistent sleep durations, even varying by more than two hours a night within the same week, is linked to the development of hardened arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis.

Lloyd-Jones said, “People who get adequate sleep manage other health factors better, such as weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure. The American Heart Association recently added sleep to the factors supporting optimal cardiovascular health. We call these Life’s Essential 8, which include eating a healthy diet, not smoking or vaping, being physically active, and getting adequate sleep, along with controlling your blood pressure and maintaining healthy cholesterol and lipids, healthy blood sugar levels, and a healthy weight.”

Lloyd-Jones said, “that even small changes in your daily habits can help you sleep better”. Here are some tips from the American Heart Association:

  1. Healthy Living: Eat well, exercise, and manage stress to sleep better.
  2. Set a Schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the exact times every day.
  3. Bedtime Routine: After setting a bedtime alarm, brush your teeth or take a warm bath to get ready for sleep.
  4. Relaxation: Take a few minutes to relax before bed. You can read, write, meditate, or listen to calming music.
  5. No Technology: Keep your phone and other gadgets away from your bed. Try to avoid using them for at least an hour before bedtime.
  6. Sleep Supplements: Only use sleep supplements with your doctor’s advice. Be careful with them.
  7. Sleep Disorders: If you have trouble sleeping often, you might have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea or insomnia. Get help from a doctor.

Lloyd-Jones suggests “making small changes one at a time until you find what works best for you. Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t just about feeling refreshed; it’s like giving your heart a big hug to keep it strong and healthy.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Kelsie M. Full, Tianyi Huang, et al., Sleep Irregularity and Subclinical Markers of Cardiovascular Disease: The Multi‐Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Journal of the American Heart Association. DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.122.027361.