happy woman waking up from a restful night sleepYour heart is working hard to keep your tissues oxygenated and your blood moving through your body. However, if you’re not getting quality rest or are suffering from sleep-related conditions that limit that healthy movement of blood, you may be putting your heart at risk.

Cortisol, Stress, and Poor Sleep

Even if you’re not under a great deal of emotional stress, you may actually be boosting your stress hormone, cortisol, when you have poor sleep habits. If you’re up too late studying and getting up early to work, you may be able to maintain these activities for a short time but over the long term, you may be making yourself sick.

Cortisol and Fat Storage

High levels of cortisol cause people to gain weight in the upper body. Storing fat in this part of the body is an indicator of a higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. When your blood pressure is high, your blood vessels resist, rather than assist, your heart as it works to send blood around your body. In addition, all the organs in which the heart carries in nutrients and carries away toxins, such as the liver and kidneys, are at greater risk for damage caused by high blood pressure. Your heart has to work harder for the same results.

Snoring, Sleep and Health

While snoring may seem minor, it limits the air your body can take in while you sleep. This means that your blood, which needs oxygen, is starving. In addition, your heart has to work much harder to move around the nutrients it does have as you rasp and snort. If you notice that you wake up gasping, wake yourself up snoring or have a raspy throat in the morning, your snoring may be impacting your heart’s ability to do a great job.

Obesity and Diabetes

As your stress levels go up and you gain weight around your tummy, it will be harder to shed. In fact, it may stress you out and cause you to produce even more cortisol. Getting into a routine that respects both sleep and health is critical if you hope to manage stress, build physical strength and get a handle on your weight. By engaging in poor sleep habits, thus raising your cortisol level, letting your tummy build up and putting yourself at greater risk of diabetes, you are voluntarily placing yourself in the way of terrible harm.

Conclusion: Sleep Helps the Wellbeing of Your Heart!

Some of us have to fight to get the sleep we need. Work up a program of great sleep hygiene, such as no electronics an hour before bed and monitoring your caffeine intake, you can protect yourself against a host of preventable health challenges.

For more health information, check out how sleep apnea can raise blood pressure (hypertension)!