YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – March is National Sleep Awareness Month. It’s a good time to take a look at how much sleep you are getting, and more importantly, the quality of your sleep. It’s important because it could impact your heart health.
One in three adults doesn’t get enough sleep, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). The recommended time is seven to nine hours each night.
Kids need more sleep than adults, but only one in three get the sleep they need.
Sleeping an inconsistent number of hours each night and falling asleep at different times may increase the risk of a cardiovascular condition called atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Daylight Saving doesn’t help, either. Losing an hour of sleep in the spring can throw many people out of whack with their sleep habits.
“This year, daylight saving time begins on Sunday, March 13 and it can cause sleep disruptions for both children and adults,” said Jennifer McNeil, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. “The key to healthy sleep is to prepare for the impact of springing forward.”
- Start now getting as much light as possible each day. This can help adjust your body rhythm for the change to come.
- Start winding down a little earlier in the evenings ahead. While you can never make up lost sleep, going into the time change well-rested can help.
- Don’t compensate with extra caffeine. It may feel like an extra coffee or two can help you through the mid-day slump, but too much caffeine is not heart healthy.
- Don’t take a nap. Most people don’t get enough sleep at any time; adding a cat nap to your afternoon can make it even harder to sleep well that night.
Sleep disorders can prevent you from getting the rest you need. Sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure and those who suffer from insomnia are more likely to have cardiovascular issues, according to AHA. If you think you have a sleep disorder, talk to your doctor. Those lost hours or poor-quality sleep can impact your heart and your overall health.
Here are some tips to improve your overall sleep.
- Eating a balanced diet and getting regular physical activity.
- Managing stress can help you fall asleep faster and support a healthier night’s sleep.
- A bedroom free of light and technology will equate to better sleep. Try logging off your electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.
- Stick to specific times to go to bed and wake up each day and commit to a consistent schedule as much as possible. Try a bedtime alarm to indicate it’s time to start winding down.
- Falling asleep can be tricky for some people. Sleep experts recommend limiting the use of sleep aids. Try adding a relaxing bedtime ritual such as meditation, reading or journaling.