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Heart attack and stroke risk is decreased with good sleep

Harold Mandel's picture
Suffering from insomnia

Researchers say that there is an association between insomnia and an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.


Insomnia can cause more than subjective feelings of tiredness. There is also an association between insomnia and an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. It's important to strive to sleep well to help prevent being hit with these serious health conditions.

Sleep is essential for biological recovery

The European Society of Cardiology reports you are at an increased risk for heart attack and stroke if you suffer from insomnia. First author Qiao He, who is a Master’s degree student at China Medical University in Shenyang, China, says that sleep is essential for biological recovery. About a third of our lifetime is taken up by sleep. Yet in our fast paced modern world there are more people than ever before who complain of insomnia.

The researchers discovered there were significant associations between having trouble falling asleep, problems staying asleep, sleep which is not restorative and the risk of having a heart disease and stroke. This association was not seen with early-morning awakening.

Miss He says that the mechanisms of this association are not completely clear. From past studies it appears that metabolism and endocrine function may be altered with insomnia. There may also be an increase in sympathetic activation, increased blood pressure, and elevated levels of proinflammatory and inflammatory cytokines with insomnia. These all increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Disorders of sleep are common

Miss He says that disorders of sleep are common in the general population. Sleep health should therefore be included as a part of clinical risk assessment. Health education is important to help raise awareness of the symptoms of insomnia and the potential risks. People suffering from insomnia should be encouraged to get help.

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This study has been published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Researchers have determined that symptoms of insomnia including problems getting to sleep, problems maintaining sleep and sleep which is not restorative are associated with an increased risk of cardio-cerebral vascular events in the future. Clearly it is important to sleep well at night to help prevent heart attack and stroke.

It's a good idea to try natural approaches for insomnia

In order to avoid the potential side effects of drug treatment for insomnia it's a good idea to try natural approaches.
Dr Weil, who is a leading expert in healthy lifestyles, says that insomnia is a very common sleep disorder which affects about one-third of adults across the world.

Dr Weil suggests establishing a consistent routine at bedtime to help with sleep. Part of your regular routine at bedtime could include taking a relaxing walk, meditating and taking a warm bath. Dr Weil also suggests getting a good amount of exercise daily. It has been observed that people who are active during the day sleep better than people who are sedentary.

It is also suggested by Dr Weil that you lower your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, particularly at night, to help with good sleep. It's also a good idea to avoid eating a lot late at night. Exposure to bright natural light during the day also helps beat insomnia. Spending time outdoors before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. and using sunscreen can help you prevent being overexposed to solar radiation.

Valerian and melatonin are among the best natural sleep aid treatments

Two of the best natural sleep aid treatments are valerian and melatonin according to Dr Weil. Valerian is a mild sedative herb that has been used for centuries to deal with insomnia. One to two capsules before bedtime is recommended. Melatonin is a hormone which regulates the wake/sleep cycle and other biorhythms. 2.5 mg at bedtime as an occasional dose is suggested. If melatonin is used regularly a much lower dose of 0.25 to 0.3 mg is recommended.

It is clearly advisable to sleep well at night to help prevent heart attack and stroke. Natural interventions for insomnia are preferable to drugs to help prevent side effects from drugs. You should try to adhere to a healthy lifestyle which includes considerations of adequate healthy sleep.