Tired hearts

Shakespeare said that sleep “knits up the ravelled sleeve of care” but what if you don’t need a bit of midnight mending? Does sleep really have a lot to offer you or is it just lost hours? In fact, sleep is an incredibly important time of regeneration and renewal for your entire body and mind. This has been illustrated in a new study linking insomnia with heart disease.

The research involved 54,279 people between the ages of 20 and 89 who were followed for an average of over 11 years. For the study insomnia was defined as having one or all of the following; trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and waking feeling unrefreshed. At the beginning of the study, the participants were asked whether they had a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. They were given a list of possible answers, “never”, “occasionally”, “often” and “almost every night”. The subjects were also asked about whether they ever woke up in the morning not feeling refreshed, known as non-restorative sleep.

The results showed that experiencing any one of the three insomnia symptoms correlated with an increased risk of heart failure. However, people who experience all three insomnia symptoms were three times more likely (353 per cent) to suffer heart failure than people who had none of the symptoms at all. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is not able to pump a sufficient amount of blood throughout the body at the correct pressure. Typically, it occurs as a result of the heart muscle becoming too weak or stiff to function as it normally does.

While this does not prove that insomnia causes heart problems, it does show a link. The possibility is that lack of sleep activates a stress response in your body that negatively affects your heart.

It seems sleep is a nocturnal seamstress that puts a few healing stitches in your heart as well as your sleeve of care.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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