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Sleep Rivals Physical Activity

Sleep Rivals Physical Activity

Resting for your health

Several factors play a part in maintaining optimal heart health.  In fact, you’re probably familiar with most of them.  They include following a healthy diet, not smoking, keeping physically active, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight as well as keeping optimal blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.  As you can see, most of these require intentional action to accomplish.  Interestingly, newer research suggests we add an 8th more relaxing requirement to the list – getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night

Unfortunately, many of us are just not getting enough sleep and this study reinforced that.  In reviewing sleep records for 2,000 adults, 63% of participants reported getting less than 7 hours a night, with 30% getting fewer than 6.  Researchers also found that these poor sleep habits were linked to other unfortunate health habits such as poor diet and underwhelming physical activity levels.      

Those with shorter sleep duration were also more likely to have irregular sleep patterns, spend less time actually sleeping while in bed after lights out, plus they reported feeling sleepier during the day and were more likely to have sleep apnea.  They were also more likely to be overweight, have diabetes and have high blood pressure.  As you can see, sleep is related to a lot of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, which is why the American Heart Association added it to their list of “Life’s Essential Eight” habits for heart health. 

The benefits of good sleep include: 

·       Healing and repair of the body’s cells, tissues and blood vessels

·       Stronger immune system

·       Improved mood and energy

·       Better brain function

·       Healthy growth and development

·       Muscle growth

·       Faster reflexes

And possibly the best reason to get more sleep is to limit the risk for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, CVD, dementia, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, infection and obesity. 



Published February 1, 2023

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