Heart Health, Sleep & How You Can Live Longer
Show your heart some love – put it to bed
If your favorite saying is “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” pay attention. Sleep boosts memory and mood, keeps your weight in check, fortifies your immune system, reduces inflammation and keeps your blood vessels, heart and other organs lean and healthy. Our fragile hearts need constant attention to stay healthy, happy and whole.
During sleep, you’re body works hard to repair damaged tissues, manufacture life-sustaining hormones and catalog memories from the previous day. Skip sleep and you’re ability to handle stress (physical, mental and emotional) and learn new skills is severely diminished. People who sleep less than 6 hours a night don’t spend enough time in the deepest stages of sleep and are at higher risk of heart attacks and strokes than those who clock at least 7 hours. Sleep deprivation is a costly habit.
Instead of an 8-hour sentence in a void of nothingness, sleep may actually be the magic bullet to a longer, heart-healthier life. Heart disease is no laughing matter and we’re dedicating this post to helping your heart stay healthier.
10 ways to love your heart
Being proactive about your heart health can feel like a full time job. Making healthy food choices. hitting the gym, saying no to cigarettes and limiting alcoholic drinks is time-consuming – and sometimes stressful. What if looking after your heart began with getting a good night’s sleep?
Getting the sleep your body needs can make your existing healthy lifestyle choices even more effective, according to research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Feel free to steal our heart healthy sleep ideas and give them to someone you love.
1. Laugh out loud – “The focus on the benefits of laughter really began with Norman Cousin’s memoir, Anatomy of an Illness. Cousins, who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful spine condition, found that a diet of comedies, like Marx Brothers films and episodes of Candid Camera, helped him feel better. He said that ten minutes of laughter allowed him two hours of pain-free sleep, excerpted from WebMD.com.
2. Slow down – Be present. Breathe.
3. Sniff your way to sleep – Lavender, chamomile, jasmine and vanilla can soothe your senses and pave the way to a restful night. Add a little aromatherapy to your nighttime routine and sniff your way to sleep.
4. Get a massage – “Regular massages help increase relaxation, which can help to calm anxiety and improve sleep problems,” says Dr. Kaminsky on ShareCare.com.
5. Meditate – It’s no secret that meditation can help us sleep better but there are some specific meditative exercises that can help us nod off when our minds are in overdrive. Read more at HuffingtonPost.com.
6. Exercise – If you expect to sleep at night, you have to do something during the day to physically tire your body. Walk, hike, run or join a yoga class.
7. Visit a friend – Take time to enjoy a friend and make each other happy for a little while. Happy people sleep better.
8. Drink tea – Chamomile tea and green tea are safe, natural sleep aids. Green tea contains theanine, which helps promote sleep. Just be sure you get a decaf green tea if drinking it at bedtime. Read more at RealSimple.com.
9. Set an electronic curfew – Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex and leave your smart phone, tablet, laptop and TV in another room.
10. Snack smart – The best snacks to have before bedtime are those that are low in calories but also contain the amino acid tryptophan, which helps the body create niacin and serotonin, the calming feel-good hormone, excerpted from FitSugar.com.