Cochin Cardiac Club

Health Blog by Dr.Uday Nair



Sleep Disturbance and Stress;

Experts believe that almost 50% of all sleep problems are due to stress. Work-related issues followed by family and children-related issues top the list of what keeps people up at night. As a result, needed leisure is squeezed into those critical hours once reserved for sleep.

However, adequate sleep is crucial to proper brain function - no less so than air, water, and food - but stress can modify sleep-wakefulness cycles. Researchers have found that metabolic and endocrine changes resulting from a significant sleep debt mimic many of the hallmarks of aging. Chronic sleep loss may not only hasten the onset but could also increase the severity of age-related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and memory loss.

Sleep researchers have discovered that the brain needs time to erase or sift through the events of the day, just like a computer needs to clean its hard drive to create space for the next day's events. Often, the night time is the only time some allow for this needed activity. So instead of sleeping, a stressed brain seems to race as it goes over the stressful events of the day. Obviously, finding time and using effective methods for relieving stress is the best way to improve healthy sleep

Reduce Stress;

Effective strategies include:
  • Scheduling time to work through the stress and finding ways to eliminate problems so they don't arise when you're trying to sleep. Try to deal with worries and distractions several hours before bedtime.
  • Meditating before going to bed
  • Engaging in daily exercise (but not 4 hours before bedtime)
  • Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants before bedtime
  • Avoiding alcohol within 4 hours of bedtime as alcohol interrupts and fragments sleep
  • Taking warm bath and listening to relaxing music before bedtime
  • Avoiding watching TV before bedtime
  • Keeping regular sleep hours. Keep your biological check by going to bed around the same time each night and waking up close to the same time each morning -- even on weekends.

Sleep and Heart Problems;

Prolonged sleep deprivation and disrupted sleep patterns can have long-term, serious health implications, new research shows.

Leading academics have linked lack of sleep to strokes, heart attacks and cardiovascular disorders, which often result in early death.

A number of studies have established that moderate to severe cases of the nighttime breathing problem known as obstructive sleep apnea significantly increases the risk of suffering a stroke. It is estimated that about 10% of the population have undiagnosed sleep apnea. Further, almost 75% of stroke sufferers have sleep apnea and have significantly worse functional outcomes after stroke than do patients without apnea

It is estimated that about 10% of the population have undiagnosed sleep apnea, which may be an underlying cause of heart disease. People with sleep apnea suffer from repeated obstructions of the throat during sleep. They literally can't breathe while sleeping. They must wake up in order to breathe (but they don't usually recall these awakenings). This repeated fragmentation of sleep patterns keeps them from having normal, restorative sleep. Recent research suggests that snoring itself may affect sleep quality and may respond to the same treatments used for apnea.

One way sleep apnea is linked to heart disease is through its effect on blood pressure. Research has shown that apnea patients with normal blood pressure run a risk of developing high blood pressure within four years. Hypertension is a major risk factor in the development of heart disease and stroke.

"If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep you stand a 48 per cent greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15 per cent greater chance of developing or dying of a stroke,"

"The trend for late nights and early mornings is actually a ticking time bomb for our health so you need to act now to reduce your risk of developing these life-threatening conditions. "There is an expectation in today's society to fit more into our lives. The whole work/life balance struggle is causing too many of us to trade in precious sleeping time to ensure we complete all the jobs we believe are expected of us."
"But in doing so, we are significantly increasing the risk of suffering a stroke or developing cardiovascular disease resulting in, for example, heart attacks."

"Chronic short sleep produces hormones and chemicals in the body which increase the risk of developing heart disease and strokes, and other conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and obesity".

But going too far the other way, as sleeping overly long – more than nine hours at a stretch – may be an indicator of illness, including cardiovascular disease.

"By ensuring you have about seven hours sleep a night, you are protecting your future health, and reducing the risk of developing chronic illnesses. The link is clear from the research: get the sleep you need to stay healthy and live longer".

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