Heart Disease is the second most common cause of death in Canada, only behind Cancer. Heart Disease is complicated, and has contributing factors from all aspects of our life, from stress levels, diet, genetics, activity levels and sleep. While we can’t address everything about Heart Disease, we can take a look at how your sleep impacts your risk factors for it.
We have said it many times, but when we sleep we heal. Everyday, our cells work hard to provide us with the energy, processes and nutrients our body needs. Our muscle tissue is broken down and regenerated everyday, and in order for that to happen, we need to sleep well. Good sleep also reduces stress and cortisol levels, and gives us the energy we need to make good choices about exercise and nutrition.
We talk about Sleep Apnea a lot because it is one of the most common sleep disorders, and there is a lot of information available about it. About 3% of the Canadian population has been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, but we know the numbers for those suffering is much higher. In the US, where Sleep Apnea has been diagnosed and treated more openly, about 25% of men have been diagnosed with the disorder.
Sleep Apnea causes obstructions in the airway that blocks airflow, which lowers our blood oxygen levels. When this happens, the brain recognizes a danger, and usually brings us out of deep sleep, and we usually experience a spike in our heart rate as our body tries to re-establish a normal breathing pattern and oxygen level. This repeated stress on the heart increases the risk of heart disease by 30%, heart failure by 140% and leaves you 2-4 times more likely to develop arrhythmias such as Afib..
The importance of sleep has been neglected for decades, but diagnosis and treatment for sleep disorders have never been more available. If you are worried about your sleep, now is the time to take steps to address it. If you have a heart condition and have not had your sleep checked, we recommend speaking to your doctor about getting a simple overnight sleep test to ensure your sleep is not contributing to it. We offer free consultations with our sleep therapist to anyone who has questions about their sleep. Contact one of our sleep clinics today to learn more.