FIRST IN OUR MONTH-LONG SERIES, "SWEET DREAMS SWEET HEARTS," FOR NATIONAL HEART HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH
National Wear Red Day® is the colorful entree into the annual Heart Health Month awareness campaign in the US.
Why Go Red? It's the color of our hearts, of our blood, the very symbol of life.
Wearing red today shows you "know your numbers":
- blood pressure
- total cholesterol
- total HDL (good) cholesterol
- blood sugar
- body mass index (BMI), which determines if you are living at a heart-healthy weight
By wearing red, you are also showing support for educational programs that can increase all women’s awareness of heart health and the critical research being done to broaden scientific understanding of cardiovascular health.
Here at Advanced Cardiovascular Sleep Disorders Center, we strongly advocate that women practice healthy sleep practices as an additional and effective means for improving overall heart health. This includes practicing good sleep hygiene and addressing sleep disorders through testing, diagnosis, and treatment.
How sleep health leads to heart health
It's really as simple as getting good sleep to improve heart health.
When you achieve good sleep, your heart thrives
- Good sleep means your heart doesn't need to work so hard at night; blood pressure and pulse rate are lower at night as a result.
- Good sleep helps keep insulin and blood sugar levels in balance, lowering one's risk for developing both type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Good sleep reduces stress hormones in the bloodstream, bolsters the immune system, improves breathing, and has a positive effect on mental health. As sleep is a whole-body process, its positive impact on a person's overall wellness cannot be underestimated in its ability to stave off chronic problems like heart disease.
When you don't achieve good sleep, night after night, your heart suffers
- Your risks for developing or dying from coronary heart disease are much higher, as are risks for developing or dying from stroke when you have problematic sleep.
- People who are sleep deprived have an elevated blood pressure and heart rate at all times of day, which creates stress on the heart muscle.
- When blood sugar levels are out of balance due to poor sleep, the body releases something known as C-reactive protein as a stress response. This leads to inflammation of the cardiovascular system.
- Poor sleep has been associated with increased in the calcium buildup in the arteries well known to cause heart attacks.
- Both insomnia and sleep apnea, when left undiagnosed or untreated, can lead to poor heart health such as high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, heart failure, and other heart health risk factors like obesity and stroke.
Women are known to suffer from a lot of sleep problems. They stand to benefit greatly from regular and adequate sleep at all times of their lives (during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause). The hormone shifts during these periods in women's lives account for a lot of problems with sleep that are worth overcoming for the sake of good heart (and brain) health, quality of life and longevity.
Columbia University's Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Ph.D. chaired the American Heart Association panel that arrived at the organization's first-ever official statement on sleep health and its relationship to cardiovascular health ("Sleep Duration and Quality: Impact on Lifestyle Behaviors and Cardiometabolic Health: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association").
She wrote: “I would hope that doctors start talking to their patients about their sleep as part of their routine care, as they do, or should do, with physical activity and diet.” St-Onge suggests that all doctors make it routine to ask about snoring and fatigue and refer patients for further testing if needed.
Don't forget to wear red today to show you know your risks for heart health when you don't get your sleep!