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(RxWiki News) Many people try to catch up on sleep over the weekend in an effort to offset the negative health effects of too little sleep during the week. But these people may be in for a rude awakening.

A new study found that not getting enough sleep during the week and trying to catch up over the weekend may be linked to poor heart health.

This study, presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, followed more than 21,000 women who were health care professionals between the ages of 60 and 84.

Women in the study who experienced sleep debt (defined as spending two or more hours catching up on sleep over the weekend) were more likely to have poor heart health. This remained true even after researchers took into account factors like income, education and stress levels.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 50 to 70 million US adults have sleep disorders or do not get enough sleep. The American Heart Association reports that lack of sleep can increase the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

Sleep expert Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge, who was not part of the current study, said in a press release that, “It’s best to get at least seven hours of sleep each night and to go to bed and wake at about the same time every day.”

It’s not only important to get enough sleep, but it’s also important to not change sleep patterns from weekday to weekend, said senior study author Dr. Michelle Albert, of the University of California, San Francisco.

Good sleep habits — or sleep hygiene — can help you get a good night’s sleep and keep you healthy and happy. These habits include the following:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including weekends.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Remove all electronic devices, such as TVs, computers and smartphones, from your bedroom.
  • Avoid taking naps throughout the day. If you do snooze during the day, limit your nap to 30 minutes.
  • Avoid eating large meals before bedtime.
  • Pay attention to what you drink before bedtime. Drinking too many liquids late in the evening could cause you to make multiple trips to the bathroom throughout the night, keeping you up.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake before bedtime.
  • Get some exercise. Being active can help you fall asleep more easily at night. However, exercising too close to bedtime may keep you up. Work out at least a few hours before bed or opt for some yoga in the evening.

Speak to your health care provider about your sleep hygiene.

The American Heart Association published this study. The study authors disclosed no outside funding sources or potential conflicts of interest.



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