Sleep your way to better heart health?


All you have to do is sleep and you’ll achieve a healthier heart? That sounds too good to be true, but when the Mayo Clinic offers advice, we listen.

Sleep deprivation puts adults, particularly women, at greater risk for heart disease, the American Heart Association (AHA) warns.

Poor sleep includes having difficulty falling asleep, waking too early or waking often during the night. Even moderate insomnia can contribute to heart disease, says the AHA. Links to obesity, depression and diabetes are often in the news.


Now that we’ve established that the fabled “good night’s sleep” is critical, how do we get it? The Mayo Clinic offers these tips:

  • Make a plan: Set a bedtime and stick to it.
  • Power down: An hour before bed, turn off the gadgets.
  • Relax before you hit the pillow: Listen to music, read a book or take a bath, and forget the “to-do” list.

In addition to this advice, the Mayo Clinic offers clear steps in the book, Healthy Heart for Life! The book is the foundation of St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s 10-week Take Time for Your Heart program.

  • If you don’t awake refreshed and alert, make changes. Figure out how much time you need for sleep and dial back on TV and other distractions.
  • Track your sleep. Quick notes on a pocket-size pad of paper on what time you go to bed and when you get up can help paint an accurate picture.
  • The amount and timing of exercise matters.
  • Alcohol and caffeine factor into the equation.
  • When and where is crucial. “Try to go to bed at about the same time every night and try to get up at about the same time every morning,” according to Mayo. And, face it, falling asleep in the chair in the TV room leaves you with that wicked cramp in your neck.
  • Weekends count, too. You can’t make up the sleep lost over the week and switching things up, makes it difficult to establish the crucial pattern.