How Untreated Insomnia Puts You at Greater Risk for a Heart Attack

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How Untreated Insomnia Puts You at Greater Risk for a Heart Attack

Poor sleeping habits have been linked to a wide array of health problems, including diabetes, obesity, depression, and even some types of cancer. 

Recently, research has focused on the link between poor-quality sleep and heart disease, particularly heart disease associated with high blood pressure (hypertensive heart disease).

The results show the profound effect poor sleeping habits have on your heart and its health and function. Unfortunately, sleep problems are rampant in the United States, likely contributing to the high rates of heart disease and related deaths, too. 

Our team at Atlanta Insomnia and Behavioral Health Services helps patients support better heart health and overall wellness with sleep therapy focused on managing insomnia and other sleep issues. 

In this post, we explore the relationship between sleep and heart health issues, like heart disease, heart attack, and high blood pressure.

Insomnia affects heart function and activity

Sleep problems interrupt your body’s circadian rhythm, the natural rhythm your body uses to maintain optimal health and function. When you’re sleep-deprived, that rhythm can become unbalanced, making it harder for your heart and other tissues to repair themselves during sleep. 

Chronic insomnia can lead to impaired blood vessel function and changes in your heart rate, leading to decreased blood flow to your heart and other organs.

Insomnia raises your blood pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading cause of heart disease and heart attack. Hypertension is also extremely common, affecting about half of American adults.

Poor sleep habits increase blood pressure, probably as a result of a combination of factors. Lack of sleep leads to hormonal imbalances that can raise your blood pressure, and it also alters heart rhythm and blood vessels function, other factors that can lead to hypertension.

Insomnia affects your metabolism

Insomnia and other sleep problems can affect your metabolism — how efficiently your body converts food into usable energy. 

When you don’t get adequate sleep, your body can’t process blood sugar the way it’s supposed to. That can cause insulin sensitivity, which in turn can lead to obesity and diabetes, two additional risk factors for heart disease. 

Insomnia contributes to inflammation

Chronic inflammation is a leading marker for many types of diseases, including heart disease. Without sufficient sleep, your body can’t manage inflammation effectively, leading to an increase in overall inflammation. 

In turn, inflammation causes strain on the heart and damages the lining of your blood vessels, increasing your risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), a major risk factor for heart disease.

Insomnia can lead to unhealthy habits

When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to develop unhealthy habits to help you cope with daily fatigue and stress. That includes overeating, smoking, and copious amounts of caffeine or other stimulants. Each of these habits can increase the risk of heart disease and heart attack. 

Some people think having a nightcap can help them sleep better, but the opposite is true. Not only can alcohol disrupt sleep and impair the quality of your sleep, but it can also contribute to heart problems.

Insomnia contributes to stress and depression

Finally, lack of sleep can have a profound effect on your mood and your overall emotional wellness. Poor sleep leads to increases in stress hormones that can lead to inflammation and poor immune responses. 

Excess stress can also lead to overeating, smoking, or substance abuse. Over time, insomnia can lead to depression and anxiety, two serious mental health issues that also increase the risk of heart problems. 

Help for sleep problems

Our team has extensive experience in helping people overcome insomnia and other sleep disorders, improving sleep habits and sleep quality for better heart health and overall wellness. 

To learn more about the methods we use that can help you put your sleep disorders to rest, request an appointment online or over the phone with our team at Atlanta Insomnia and Behavioral Health Services in Decatur, Georgia, today.