Everyone’s had to pull an all-nighter at some point or another.
Maybe you’ve let work pile up for too long, or too many smaller tasks built up and left you with a deadline that doesn’t exactly leave room for sleep. While pulling an all-nighter or two every once in a while won’t kill you, getting too little sleep for too long a period is going to pose a major problem to your health.
According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, 1 in 3 adults doesn’t get enough sleep. And for those who do, they may not be getting the effective sleep that they need to adequately rest and be able to tackle the next day.
The worst part? There’s a connection between a lack of sleep and a myriad of health problems ranging from poor motor skills and slower reflexes all the way to heart problems. There are so many reasons to consider and understand to better appreciate the need for effective sleep
Here are the concerning and deep connections between deep sleep & heart health.
Why You Need Deep Sleep
The precise reason why you need sleep is not completely understood. But while there is little that scientists understand concerning the reason, the effects of a lack of sleep can clearly be studied.
The general thought is that REM sleep is the most important. According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep can be broken down into the following stages:
Generally speaking, these five stages of sleep are often referred to as a binary—REM sleep and non-REM sleep. The non-REM sleep cycles often act as a precursor to REM, forcing the body into an inactive state so that REM sleep can occur. While they are referred to as different states, they generally are different ways to refer to the same process.
REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep, is characterized by a paralyzed body but highly active neurons. Essentially, your brain is acting as if it is wide awake, while the rest of your body is completely still.
Sleep is thought to be a function that restores the mind and aids in the reproduction of energy, which occurs during REM sleep. REM sleep can also only occur after the other four stages of sleep, which leads into why precisely you need deep sleep.
When you’re a light sleeper or your sleep is constantly disrupted by activities, alarm clocks, children, and other noise irritants, it is as if your sleep has to start from the beginning. It takes about 90 minutes to fully go through the cycle, so if you sleep is interrupted before the 90 minutes are up, essentially, those minutes spent asleep are forfeit to your health.
For example, if you get about an hour of sleep and awaken for one reason or another, you may be disrupting sleep at stage 3. When you next lay down, even though you’ve already had an hour of sleep, you’ll start again at stage 1 and still have averaged 0 minutes in REM sleep—the most important sleep stage.
This is why deep sleep is so important. Long bouts of uninterrupted sleep allow the brain to enter REM sleep and replenish itself. If you’re not getting the sleep you need, especially the REM sleep you need, constantly, you could be in for a world of trouble.
Heart Health & Sleep Deprivation
Continuously depriving your body of the sleep it needs is referred to as sleep deprivation. Think of running on sleep deprivation like running your car with old oil. Doing so once or twice isn’t as bad, but if you continuously run on sleep deprivation, you can cause long-term damage to your body’s function.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to be a major contributor to the development of hypertension in the body. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, consistently puts pressure on the heart, and in turn, becomes a precursor for a great deal of heart health issues.
Those who run on sleep deprivation, or a sleep debt, are continuously placing their body in the position to develop heart issues such as coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, and other such conditions.
The biggest problem is that many people who are running on a sleep debt don’t know it. They may be able to sleep an hour here or an hour there, but without giving your body the chance to continuously run through the REM cycle, these small bouts of sleep are essentially meaningless.
To rid yourself of possible symptoms of health failure caused by improper sleeping habits, you’ll need to work to ensure that each time you rest, you give your body the tools it needs to get that precious REM sleep.
The key to sleeping correctly is to do so in an environment that best promotes sleep. This aids physiologically and can prevent conditions such as insomnia from developing, but the real reason you want to get into a routine is to train your body’s circadian rhythm.
Your body’s circadian rhythm can essentially be described as your body’s internal clock. Before the advent of electricity and other such devices, your body relied on environmental factors such as the amount of light and the temperate to dictate when it was time to sleep.
By rising and sleeping with the sun, people were able to consistently sleep with little worry. However, the digital age has changed this. With entertainment, technology, and work stemming well into the night, there is no one agreed-upon time for everyone to rest. Instead, you’ll have to make your schedule and find your own time to get that much-needed sleep.
Sleeping erratically and inconsistently throws off the body’s internal clock. To sleep right, we’ll need to simulate the same stimuli that our bodies are naturally wired to take. This means taking steps to recreate the conditions that people in the past would experience.
For instance, try your best to keep your bedroom as dark and as quiet as possible when you sleep. Daylight is the body’s number one way of knowing that it is time to get up. This is especially important for those who may work a night shift.
You also need to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Doing so will help your body prepare to get the sleep it needs when bedtime approaches. You can hope for deeper, more effective sleep by doing so in this manner.
Finally, make sure that your body is ready to shut off. This includes skipping meals right before bed, avoiding stimuli like the internet or bright phone lights, and only entering the bedroom when it is time for bed.
These simple fixes will train your body to know and expect when sleep is going to happen. In this way, even if you’re forced to sleep six hours or less (which we don’t recommend), you will at least get the REM sleep you need to ward off heart health issues.
Generally speaking, the link between heart health and sleep is one of cause and effect. The less you sleep, the more your body is forced to operate without proper rest. Not only cause this cause the heart health issues we discussed, but it can also increase fatigue and cripple productivity.
For your health, it is vital that you heed our tips and attempt to get your sleep schedule somewhat consistent. The most effective way to revert the damage already done to your heart is to fix your sleep schedule and stick to it.
Other ways you can improve heart health include getting more exercise and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle. Small changes, like installing a standing desk or taking public transportation instead of driving can do wonders for your health.
Regardless, we hope that you can work to improve your heart health by fixing your sleep schedule and ensuring that your blood pressure reduces to a healthy figure. By sleeping more consistently and more often, you can set yourself up to be active and energetic when you need to be and avoid stimulants like caffeine that can disrupt your body’s natural clock.
In any case, we hope that our tips and tricks here help you get your schedule arranged to reduce your risk of heart decease and get the energy you need to win the day.