ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — February, the time we all draw our attention to love and more importantly our hearts. February is heart health month and there are currently more than 26 million people affected by heart failure. While you can’t really control risk factors like age and genetics, you can control how much you sleep. A new study indicates that the way we sleep may actually be the key to unlocking a healthy heart.
Are your sleep habits healthy? Well, it turns out sleep can mean a whole lot more than just a chance to re-charge.
Jagdish Khubchadani, PhD, a professor of public health at New Mexico State University told Ivanhoe, “You have a risk of heart disease, cancers and stroke because sleep is like a medicine. That’s your time when you rejuvenate. You grow again. You feel relaxed, fulfilled.”
Healthy sleep patterns are defined as seven to eight hours of sleep every night, no frequent waking or insomnia, and no reported daytime sleepiness. In a study published in the journal Circulation, researchers found that adults with the healthiest sleep habits were 42 percent less likely to develop heart disease.
“We are running around finding the best medicine for stress and a number of problems like heart disease. But sleep is the best medicine available for free and maintaining it should be a number one priority,” said Khubchadani.
For higher-quality sleep, experts recommend going to bed at the same time every night, exercising throughout the day, and keeping your mind engaged. Start your bedtime routine an hour before bed and yep you guessed it … keep your phone out of the bedroom.
Something else to watch out for: Researchers at Mayo Clinic say that snoring could be a sign of sleep deprivation. Not getting enough sleep can lead to further throat relaxation which is one of the causes of snoring.
Contributors to this news report include: Sabrina Broadbent, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
DREAMING OF A HEALTHY HEART
BACKGROUND: Over the average lifetime, the heart beats about 2.5 billion times, pushing millions of gallons of blood to every part of the body. This steady flow carries oxygen, fuel, hormones, other compounds, and a host of essential cells. It also carries away the waste products of metabolism. When the heart stops, essential functions fail, some almost instantly. The heart can fail due to a poor diet and lack of exercise, smoking, infection, unlucky genes, and more. A healthy lifestyle started at a young age goes a long way to preventing cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle changes and medications can help with high blood pressure or high cholesterol before they cause damage. And a variety of medications, operations, and devices can help support the heart if damage occurs.
SLEEP AND HEART HEALTH: Sleep is critical to good health and helps your body repair itself. Getting enough good sleep helps you function normally during the day. Adults who sleep less than 7 hours each night are more likely to have health problems, including heart attack, asthma, and depression. Some of these problems raise the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. During normal sleep, your blood pressure goes down. Having sleep problems means your blood pressure stays higher for a longer period of time, and high blood pressure is one of the leading risks for heart disease and stroke. Diabetes is a disease that causes sugar to build up in your blood, a condition that can damage your blood vessels. Some studies show that getting enough good sleep may help people improve blood sugar control. Lack of sleep can lead to unhealthy weight gain. This is true for children and adolescents, who need more sleep than adults. Not getting enough sleep may affect a part of the brain that controls hunger.
NEW RESEARCH ON SLEEP GENE: UCSF scientists who previously identified two known human genes that promote “natural short sleep” have discovered a third gene, which has also shown to prevent memory deficits that accompany sleep deprivation. The researchers believe this latest discovery may one day lead to target therapies that improve sleep and treat sleep disorders. Ying-Hui Fu, PhD, a professor of neurology and member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences and her team identified the newest gene in a father-and-son pair who averaged just 5.5 and 4.3 hours of sleep each night, far less than the average eight or more hours recommended. The researchers performed gene sequencing on both father and son and zeroed in on a single-letter mutation in a gene called NPSR1, which encodes a signaling protein that sits on the surface of neurons and is involved in regulating sleep. “NPSR1 not only promotes short sleep, it also prevents memory problems that usually result from sleep deprivation,” Fu said. “This is the first gene that anyone’s discovered that exerts a protective effect against one of the many adverse consequences of sleep deprivation.”
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