How Does Sleep Affect Heart Health?
Sleeping is something that a lot of people take for granted. Especially these days, when staying up late seems to be the norm. However, aside from causing you to feel tired or cranky, lack of sleep can have more serious effects on your health.
To answer the question of “How does sleep affect heart health?”, we need to understand what happens to the body whenever we fall asleep.
Whenever we go to sleep, our blood pressure starts to go down. This is because we don’t really do any activities when sleeping, so our body brings down our blood pressure to about 10%-20% lower than normal. Because our blood pressure goes down when we sleep, this means that if a person spends a lot of time awake, then they maintain a higher blood pressure for longer1. This is especially problematic if a person already has high blood pressure to begin with.
Another thing that sleep does is it allows the heart to recover from constantly pumping blood throughout the body. As our blood pressure goes down when we sleep, so does our heart rate. This gives the heart enough time to “rest” and to recover, so that when we wake up, it’s ready for another busy day.
Sleep deprivation has also been found to increase a person’s risk of atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup inside arteries. Lack of sleep can lead to chronic inflammation, which can increase plaque formation in the arteries.