Sleep, Women and Heart Disease

young woman sleeping peacefully

Exercise and eating nutritious foods aren’t the only things that can help increase heart health. Sleep is also a factor. 

The better night’s sleep you get, the healthier your heart will be. In fact, the American Heart Association has added sleep to its list of key measures to help improve and maintain cardiovascular health — Life’s Essential 8

How much sleep do I need?

Most people need seven to nine hours per night.

But your needs can vary by age. When we are young, we need more than that. As we grow older, we may need less.

Some studies have found that too little or too much sleep can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, so getting the right amount is important for your health.

What happens if I fall short on sleep?

The body can be significantly impacted when it doesn’t get enough sleep. Some effects from not getting enough sleep include:

  • A slower metabolism.
  • Difficulty losing weight.
  • Feeling less motivated to exercise and follow other healthy habits.

Additionally, sleep problems such as sleep apnea and insomnia affect your ability to get quality sleep over time. These can raise the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

Why good sleep matters

The benefits of a good sleep are evident when we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. Moreover, a good night’s sleep has positive effects on your:

  • Heart health.
  • Breathing.
  • Immune system.
  • Mental health.
  • Stress hormones.
  • Weight management.

Issues for menopausal women

As women’s’ bodies reach menopause, sometimes their sleep is affected. Women in menopause or perimenopause (the transition years before menopause) may complain that they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This is often due to hot flashes, night sweats or changes in mood. 

Talk to your health care professional if you are approaching or in menopause and having trouble sleeping regularly. That’s because not all sleep problems have the same cause, and there could be another underlying cause, such as sleep apnea or a thyroid problem. 

How to improve your sleep habits

Do you suffer from a lack of restful sleep? If so, there are several things you can do to help.

  • Exercise. Try to get adequate exercise. Physical activity can help you get some ZZZZs more quickly.
  • Avoid excess caffeine. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine near bedtime as they may keep you awake.
  • Establish an evening routine. Have a routine that signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. It may include a relaxing shower or bath, turning off electronic devices, reading or doing other relaxing activities.
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. That includes weekends, too.