Women’s Sleep and Heart Health: Why Prioritizing Sleep is Important

March 27, 2023

Valerie Cacho MD

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the US? According to the CDC, 1 out of 5 women die from heart disease. This statistic is alarming, but there is hope. One simple way to reduce your risk of heart-related illnesses is by prioritizing your sleep.

The Relationship Between Women’s Sleep Health and Cardiovascular Disease

Getting enough quality sleep is essential for healthy living, especially for women’s heart health. Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep or experiencing sleep disturbances can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension, sleep loss defined as ≤5 hours is associated with:

  • increased blood pressure
  • higher levels of sympathetic nervous system activity which puts more strain on the heart
  • thickening of the heart muscles that can lead to a weak heart over time

However, sleeping ≤5 hours isn’t the only sleep related factor that affects the health of a woman’s heart. Two additional factors include:

  • Shiftwork: Working rotating night shifts can disrupt your circadian rhythms and lead to increases in heart disease.
  • Snoring: Not just a nuisance to your bed partner. Snoring is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea that is associated with high blood pressure.

Simple Changes to Improve Your Sleep Habits

The good news is that simple changes to your sleep habits can result in improved heart health and a lower risk of heart disease. Here are some tips to help you prioritize your sleep:

  • Give yourself the opportunity to sleep 7-9 hours every night.
  • Reduce or stop your consumption of caffeine and alcohol in the evening.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual to ease your mind and body into restful sleep.
  • For shift workers, aim to have a consistent work and bedtime schedule even on days when you are off of work.
  • If you snore or suspect you may have obstructive sleep apnea, speak with your doctor about getting a sleep study performed and placed on the appropriate treatment.

Learn More About Women’s Sleep Health

To learn more about women’s sleep health, read “6 Common Sleep Questions From Midlife Women Answered by an Expert Sleep Physician.” And if you’re curious about snoring in women, check out the mini-webinar on Sleephoria’s YouTube Channel titled “Why Do Women Snore?”

Don’t let poor sleep habits negatively impact your heart health. Make sleep a priority and live a healthy and whole life.

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