Sleep and your heart

Sleep and Your Heart

Are you getting enough shut-eye to keep your heart ticking strong? You should. A recent study found that people who sleep less than seven hours a night had a 48 percent higher risk of developing or dying from coronary heart disease, and a 15 percent higher risk of dying from stroke.

Jonathan Altschuler, MD, a cardiologist at AAMC, explains why you should make sleep a priority.

Q: Why is sleep necessary for a healthy heart?

A: The majority of working adults are sleep deprived. They get less than eight hours of sleep a night. Some doctors have found that getting less than eight hours of sleep can lead to hypertension, which is a key risk factor for heart disease.

Q: What other heart-related conditions can be affected by lack of sleep?

A: Sleep apnea. If left untreated, this condition can lead to a higher risk of an irregular heartbeat. If you experience unexplained daytime sleepiness, you may have sleep apnea. See your doctor. There are a lot of good treatment options for sleep apnea today.

Q: What tips can you provide for getting more and better rest?

A: Stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes five times a week. Finally, avoid bright lights in the evening from your computer screen.

Read Dr. Altschuler’s tips for maintaining a healthy heart by avoiding processed carbohydrates and address sugar. 
Learn your risk for heart disease with our free online heart health profiler at and take the first step toward having a healthy heart for life.
Jonathan Altschuler, MD, is a cardiologist at AAMC.
Originally published Feb. 15, 2017. Last updated Feb. 3, 2020.

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