By now, it is a well-known fact that getting an adequate amount of sleep is essential for the normal functioning of the body. Completing a day’s sleep schedule helps boost immunity and keeps the circulatory system healthy. It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system that puts the body at rest, storing energy to be used for other vigorous activities. Sleep affects the physical and mental functioning of the body. When we are well-rested, we tend to have more energy and this energy keeps us going till the day ends. In this energy, our energy is stored and used appropriately.
Unfortunately, many individuals, especially adolescents, do not get proper sleep due to increased academic pressure and responsibilities. Nowadays, many students and even employees have developed a bad habit of working after midnight. This causes adverse effects on their health. Since they do not get proper sleep, they tend to be very lethargic and irritable during the daytime. They feel exhausted and lack focus in everything they do. Not being well-rested can have adverse effects on the nervous system and especially in the circulatory system. According to research done by Sleep Foundation, people who are sleep deprived or do not get proper sleep are most likely to have a heart attack. Some individuals suffer from sleep disorders which pushes them towards myocardial infarction.
Some of the sleep disorders that directly affect the heart include :-
- Insomnia – is a medical condition where an individual has trouble falling asleep. For some, it might last for a few weeks but it lasted for more than a month, it can have adverse effects on physical and mental health. It can be caused due to psychological disorders like anxiety disorders or sleep disorders, continuous exposure to stress, depression, and even menopause can affect your sleep cycle. But necessary steps should be taken if a person has been diagnosed with this condition. When a person is sleeping, their blood pressure drops which improve the quality of your sleep schedule and regulate your cardiovascular function. But, in the case of insomnia when you are awake, your blood pressure increases, and if you stay awake continuously every night, it puts a lot of pressure on your blood vessels to pump blood to your heart. This pressure can cause the left ventricle of your heart to thicken, stopping it to pump blood. This can cause a stroke.
- Sleep Apnea – Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleeping disorder that is caused when the upper passage of your nasal septum relaxes during sleep. This causes the airway of your nasal septum to narrow or even remain close and you are not able to breathe through your nose during sleep. This makes the person breathe through their mouth and snore. This disorder, if not diagnosed, can cause heart problems since OSA causes hypertension or high blood pressure. Since the person is not able to breathe through the nasal septum properly, they try breathing through a closed airway in the upper region or through the mouth. These unsuccessful inhalations put a lot of pressure on the chest. If left untreated, thoracic pressure on the chest can cause heart failure
- Sleep deprivation – is a condition where a person does not get the required amount of sleep. Since the minimum required amount of sleep is not less than 7 hours, people are sleep deprived when they regularly get 4 to 5 hours of sleep. Initially, it might not affect the person’s lifestyle but gradually it starts affecting them mentally because they always feel sleepy and exhausted. They feel drained during the daytime and lack focus. This condition might develop due to a poor sleeping schedule or an increase in academic pressure. If a person does not get enough sleep, they spend less time in non-rapid eye movement or NREM sleep. During a normal sleep schedule, blood pressure drop by 10% that reducing pressure in the heart. But poor sleep can result in high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attack since sleep deprivation is one of the reasons why plague or cholesterol forms in the coronary artery walls of the heart, blocking the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This strains the blood vessels which reduces blood flow from the body to the heart. This can cause a heart attack
- Certain neurological sleep disorders like Narcolepsy, which engages a person in excessive daytime sleepiness can affect heart health since daytime hypertension or daytime high blood pressure has the same effect on the heart as non-dipping or nocturnal hypertension has
Hence, people with irregular sleep schedules should adapt to healthy changes in their lifestyle :-
- Not to have heavy meals right before bedtime
- If sleeping in the afternoon results in being awake during the night, avoid taking afternoon naps
- Strictly follow the standard bedtime schedule of sleeping as early as possible
- Avoid having caffeinated drinks like tea or coffee right before bedtime. You should avoid having anything half an hour before bedtime, not even water.
- Choose your sleep atmosphere wisely. Avoid sleeping near noisy surroundings. Make sure your sleep atmosphere is calm and peaceful.
- Exercise in the morning. You are most likely to feel tired during the night only if you skip afternoon naps.