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Not Getting Enough Sleep? Know the Consequences to Protect Your Health

Health experts warn that not getting enough sleep can lead to serious health issues, including heart disease.

With many families leading busy lives balancing job duties with childcare and other household responsibilities, getting enough sleep on a daily basis might not be an easy task.

If you think sacrificing a good night’s sleep is nothing to worry about, however, think again!

According to Kaiser Permanente Southern California Sleep Medicine Physician Dr. Kendra Becker, a prolonged lack of sleep or chronic insomnia can cause great harm to your health, including cardiovascular disease.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is for your body to get enough sleep, as it is an essential part of achieving a good quality-of-life and being able to avoid major health issues,” she said. “If you’ve been sleep-deprived for a long time-period, it’s time to prioritize your sleep so that you can get enough shut eye.”

According to Dr. Becker, it’s recommended that a person get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. However, sleep disorders can make it difficult to get a healthy amount of rest.

If you’re struggling to get enough sleep, you’re not alone, as not getting enough is a common problem, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA notes about 1 in 3 adults reports not getting adequate rest on a regular basis. It’s also estimated that about 50-70 million Americans have chronic or ongoing sleep disorders.

Health experts are often concerned about research that shows prolonged lack of adequate sleep can lead to cardiovascular disease.

How sleep affects your heart

According to Sleep Foundation, sleep provides time for the body to restore and recharge, playing a key role in nearly all aspects of physical health. For the cardiovascular system, insufficient or fragmented sleep can contribute to problems with blood pressure and heighten the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, and stroke, the Sleep Foundation notes.

According to Dr. Becker and the AHA, a growing body of research highlights how sleep disorders and poor sleep can hurt your heart health:

  • Poor or fragmented sleep from diagnosis such as sleep apnea, can contribute to major cardiovascular disease risk factors including obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Insufficient or irregular sleep can negatively influence diet, stress and other lifestyle factors that can raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. Staying up late or getting insufficient sleep increases desirability for food items that carries the greatest potential for weight-gain.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness, which is a symptom of many sleep disorders, including hypersomnia, can lead to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Sleep deprivation and sleep disorders have also been linked to increased inflammation in your body, which can also elevate your risk of cardiovascular issues.
  • Poor sleep and sleep disorders can cause depression and other mental health issues, which can hurt your heart health.

“If you have an undiagnosed sleep disorder, you should not hesitate to talk to your doctor about a plan to mitigate your risk of cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Becker said. “If you suspect you have a sleep disorder but haven’t been diagnosed with one, you should consult with your doctor to explore a possible diagnosis.”

Kaiser Permanente offers important information on how to get better sleep