[by Tamara Sellman RPSGT CCSH for Advanced Cardiovascular Sleep Disorders Center]
This coming Tuesday is a holiday celebrated in two very different ways.
Shrove Tuesday references a period of Christian feasting that takes place on the eve of Lent, which starts the day after (Ash Wednesday). It is chiefly celebrated through pancake breakfasts.
Mardi Gras, in bold contrast, refers to the same holiday, but the consumption of liquor, sweets (such as King's cake), and rich and fatty foods is more typical of a Mardi Gras celebration. (There's a reason why it's also called Fat Tuesday!)
One thing both have in common is the aspect of overindulgence.
This month, we've been talking about heart health and its relationship to sleep health and sleep disorders. Poor sleep can lead to poor heart health, and trouble with heart disease and its companion chronic cousin, diabetes, can lead to poor sleep health. You just can't win!
We certainly expect that those who participate in Shrove Tuesday will probably sleep just fine on Tuesday night, but if you're a Mardi Gras merrymaker, the odds are definitely not in favor of a good night's rest!
We recognize that one night of overindulgence won't be problematic (except for the Ash Wednesday hangover, maybe), but here at Advanced Cardiovascular, we do hope that such revelry is limited to special occasions like these.
Overindulgence on Tuesday night (and any other night, for that matter) can result in a number of temporary discomforts, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (better known as heartburn or GERD), fragmented sleep, and blood sugar imbalances that could court future problems with insulin resistance.
One night of these is troublesome but certainly not life-threatening. It's when each and every night becomes a night of feasting and drinking that the long-term consequences—diabetes, hypertension, obesity, stroke, heart disease—become an area for concern.
So enjoy yourself this Tuesday, whether you're dipping into a stack of flapjacks, sampling a flight of regional bourbons, or digging into a slice of purple-green frosted King's cake in search of a toy, but be safe by avoiding too much of a good thing (in the present) and returning to more heart-healthy practices on Wednesday (for a happy, healthy future).