Last Sunday the majority of the United States observed Daylight Savings Time, which for many means we’re getting closer to Spring and warmer weather. For one night though, it also meant one less hour of sleep (to the chagrin of many). Daylight Savings Time can affect sleeping rhythms, as it gets dark later and light earlier, causing people to sleep poorly until they adjust.
Everyone has been told once in their life the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, but what many don’t realize is just how important it is – especially for your heart. Recent studies have shown a link between those who get less than six hours of sleep and an increased risk in heart disease. Not sleeping enough can cause disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation – regardless of your age, weight, and smoking or exercise habits. If there’s ever a good excuse for staying in bed for that extra hour, it’s for your heart!
Fortunately, if you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep there are several quick fixes you can make to improve your chances of getting some good shut eye. Below is a short list of things to try.
Power down. We now live in a world where we are tethered to our devices – mobile phones, tablets, TVs, and more. What many don’t realize is that the blue glow from those types of devices may actually be hurting your sleep if you use them immediately before going to bed. Tip: Avoid using TVs, phones, and tablets an hour before you go to bed, and cover any other displays (like a digital clock) that can’t be shut off.
Keep your bed for sleep. Our bedrooms should be an escape from the hustle of the rest of the house, but oftentimes we do things in there that remove the calming nature it should have. Tip: Don’t sit in bed and work, surf the Internet, or watch TV. By keeping your bed just for sleep, you will train your body to recognize your bed’s true purpose – to help you rest.
Watch when (and what) you drink. Nothing is worse than waking up in the middle of the night for the dreaded, stumbling walk to the bathroom. Waking up and walking around can make it difficult to return to your deep sleep. Tip: Try not to drink any liquids within two hours before you go to bed. Also monitor your alcohol intake, as it can make you sleepy at bedtime but once the buzz wears off, you’re more likely to wake up overnight.
Program your internal clock. Late nights out always make for a tough next morning, because your body isn’t used to the irregular time of being awake. Same goes for a random early morning wake up, which can throw off your entire day. Tip: Try to go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day, even on weekends. This will help your brain and body develop a healthy sleep schedule, which should enable you to fall asleep quickly and wake up fresh.
Remember – your heart needs sleep just like you! So, do your best, and give your heart a rest.