Under 6 hours of sleep per night increases the risk of death from stroke and heart disease, new study

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sleep-issues(NaturalHealth365) It used to be that “burning the midnight oil” and being sleep deprived was a badge of honor, a sort of bragging right among “busy” people trying to get ahead in life. But science is catching up to all of us who used to proudly decry sleep.  A new study reveals just how significant the health risks of chronic sleep deprivation are, especially if you’re already living with a health problem.

If you or a loved one has a chronic disease, prioritizing your sleep is one of the most important lifestyle changes you can make.  And if you struggle with falling or staying asleep (like many people do), keep reading for some natural sleeping tips.

Risk of death from stroke and heart disease increased for people with chronic disease who sleep less than 6 hours per night, study says

According to the National Health Council, 40% of Americans have at least one chronic illness like hypertension and diabetes. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 of us aren’t getting enough sleep.

Knowing what we know about chronic sleep deprivation, we’re not surprised to hear of a significant correlation between these two concerning statistics.

Consider a recent paper published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.  The paper’s authors analyzed sleep laboratory data and overall health status of more than 1,600 people from the Penn State Adult Cohort.

Don’t underestimate the healing power of a good night’s rest

Incredibly, they found that people with high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes who slept less than 6 hours per night were TWICE as likely to die of heart disease or stroke compared to people with the same health conditions but slept more (6 hours or more).

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The data is clear:  just about everyone needs to get an average of 8 hours of sleep per night.  Of course, there’s always the exception.

But, for most people, it really is that important!  And it’s even more imperative for people with chronic illness, for whom “targeted treatments to lengthen sleep and improve their long‐term prognosis” may be beneficial, as the authors conclude.

Need better Zzz’s? Most of us do – here are 5 natural sleeping tips to try

Research from scientists like Dr. Matthew Walker – author of Why We Sleep – suggests that a better night’s sleep doesn’t exactly “rest” with over-the-counter or prescription sleeping pills. Such remedies can lead to poor sleep quality at best and dependency at worst.

So, what’s a tired person to do?  Try these five natural sleeping tips for better sleep:

  1. Commit to a regular schedule: Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning – even on weekends. According to Dr. Walker, if you could only make one change to improve your sleep, this would be it.
  2. Power down your electronic devices: Staying plugged into televisions and cell phones late into the night can keep you up for two main reasons. First, the stimulation can make it hard to relax.  Second, the late night exposure to bright lights – especially blue light – disrupts your body’s internal clock, aka its sleep-wake cycle.  So, go digital-free for at least an hour before bed and dim the lights in your house.
  3. Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Try a warm shower or bath about 90 minutes before bed, a guided meditation, journal writing, puzzling, reading – any type of nurturing and calming routine you can look forward to.
  4. Opt for natural remedies: Many substances found naturally in nature, like lemon balm, melatonin, chamomile tea, and passionflower, are shown by scientific and anecdotal evidence to help you relax, ease stress, and fall asleep/stay asleep more effectively.
  5. Sleep in a pitch dark and cool room: Set your bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 19 °C) and remove or block any sources of ambient light – blackout curtains work well.  Hint: do your children have nightlights in their room? Consider removing them to improve their sleep, too!

Sources for this article include:

Nationalhealthcouncil.org
AHAjournals.org
Medicalnewstoday.com
Sleepfoundation.org
CDC.gov