Bad Sleep, Bad Heart: Irregular Sleep Affects Your Ticker

We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. On the surface level, not snoozing enough can make us feel groggy and cranky all day. Much deeper, your body is working to repair itself while you’re catching some much needed zzz’s.

Medical experts say sleep can help your brain, overall health and mood. Not getting enough good sleep can lead to a whole slew of issues. Most recently, a study from the Journal of the American Heart Association found that poor quality sleep can increase your risk for heart disease.


Sleep Study

The study looks at irregular sleep and the link between atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque in the arteries. The AHA says atherosclerosis can lead to heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

For the study, irregular sleep refers to variations in the duration of sleep and the timing of when you fall asleep.

The study analyzed sleep patterns in more than 2,000 older adults across all races and ethnicities. Participants kept track of their sleep in a diary and wore a tracker that monitored when they were sleeping and awake. They also completed an at-home sleep study.

Researchers assessed the participants heart health. They found those whose sleep durations varied by 90 minutes to two hours within a week were more likely to have risk factors of cardiovascular disease.

“These results suggest that maintaining regular or habitual sleep durations, or sleeping close to the same total amount of time each night, may play an important role in preventing cardiovascular disease,” said lead study author Kelsie Full, an assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.


Counting Sheep

The AHA recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Part of a healthy routine includes going to bed and waking up around the same times every day.

For more resources on how to unplug before bed and improve the quality of your rest, click here.  


Heart Disease Screenings

Meanwhile, it’s never too early to get screened for heart disease. The AHA recommends routine screenings starting at 20.

That includes checking blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose, and discussing lifestyle factors with your doctor.

If you are at a high-risk for heart disease, additional tests can be done like an electrocardiogram (EKG) or stress test. High risk factors include a family history of cardiovascular disease, being overweight or a smoker, or having high blood pressure and cholesterol.


About Advena Living

At Advena Living, we want to help our residents live their best lives. That might mean helping them quit smoking, eating a healthy diet or getting a better night’s rest.

We specialize in assisted living, skilled nursing, rehabilitation, and long-term care throughout the state. Our locations include Bonner Springs, Cherryvale, Clay Center, Clearwater, Rose Hill, Topeka, and Wichita.

Our rehab-to-home programs help individuals recover after an illness, accident or procedure and who need intensive therapies to get stronger and return to independence. Alternatively, we offer long-term care those who need assistance with routine activities on a daily basis.

Four Ways to Better Heart Health

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death for both men and women worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that 32% of all deaths are related to heart disease. That includes heart attack, stroke, and heart failure, among other conditions.

While not always the case, cardiovascular disease is largely preventable. The American Heart Association reports that 80% of cases can be avoided with the right diet and lifestyle.

Across the board, experts have stuck to the tried and true steps to better heart health.


Follow a healthy diet

The unanimous consensus is that eating better can reduce your risk of heart disease. The CDC recommends you eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats. Remember the Mediterranean Diet? All those healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocado are great for your heart.

While you’re at it, avoid the bad fats, or saturated fats. Those can raise your cholesterol and lead to plaque build-up in your arteries.

The CDC also recommends you reduce your intake of foods with added sugar and salt. Research from the National Institutes of Health found too much sodium causes you to retain water and that makes your heart work faster.


Get moving

The AHA recommends 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week, which is just over 20 minutes a day.  Moderate activity could include a brisk walk, dancing, gardening, tennis, casual biking or water aerobics.

Higher intensity activities would be running, aerobic dancing, hiking uphill, cycling or swimming laps.

The AHA also says to spend less time sitting.


Quit smoking

Smoking causes 25% of deaths from cardiovascular disease, according to the CDC. It does a lot of bad things to your body. Smoking can lower your good cholesterol, make your blood stick and likely to clot, damage cells, and cause blood vessels to thicken and narrow.


Reduce your stress

We’re beginning to learn that stress is the root of all evil. The AHA says stress may lead to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

Other research looks at the ways that stress causes an increase in white blood cells and inflammation, which affect how your body functions.

Meanwhile, cardiologists have pointed out stress causes people to act in ways that could increase their risk of heart disease. That may mean turning to comfort foods or alcohol, curling up on your couch instead of exercising or smoking more.

Experts say it’s beneficial to your overall health to find time to relax each day. Find activities that are calming and enjoyable.

Also take a moment to acknowledge the great things in your life. According to the NIH, gratitude can improve your well-being and help you cope with stress.


About Advena Living

At Advena Living, we support our residents on their wellness journey, whether that means mental health support, smoking cessation, or an overall healthier routine.

Our rehab-to-home programs help individuals who need intensive physical, occupational and/or speech therapies get stronger and return to independence. Alternatively, long-term care is an option for those who need assistance with routine activities on a daily basis. Our team will work hard to make newcomers feel comfortable, happy and engaged.

We specialize in assisted living, skilled nursing, rehabilitation, and long-term care throughout the state. Our locations include Bonner Springs, Cherryvale, Clay Center, Clearwater, Rose Hill, Topeka, and Wichita.

Lonely Hearts Club: Socially Isolated Older Women at Risk for Heart Disease

Harry Nilsson sang about one being the loneliest number. And he wasn’t the only one. While being alone may not be good for the proverbial heart, it also could have effects on cardiovascular health.

A new study finds being socially isolated and having feelings of loneliness may increase the risk of heart disease in older women.

The recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looked at nearly 58,000 women 65 years and older over the course of eight years. None of the participants in the study had a history of heart disease.

It found women who had both greater social isolation and higher level of loneliness had a 13% to 27% higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared to women who were more social and less isolated.

Changes in Life

The study points out that life changes in this age group, like retirement and loss of friends and family, only add to the risk of social isolation and loneliness. The current pandemic where people are continuing to socially distance doesn’t do much to curb the problem.

Although this study focuses on older women, isolation and loneliness can affect elderly men as well. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) found more than 30% of older adults report feeling lonely and 25% report feeling isolated.

Moving into a Community

Moving into a long-term care or assisted living community can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. Staff at our Advena Living communities encourage socialization and engagement in a variety of activities. Our social services directors hold regular resident council meetings and encourage feedback, so they can plan events and activities that community members want to do. Sharing a meal or going for a stroll with your new neighbors can also help provide a much-needed social outlet.

About Advena Living

Advena Living communities offer long-term care, skilled nursing and assisted living services at multiple locations in Kansas. We are dedicated to the vision that each person has value, and we should honor their individual choices. When a person moves into one of our Advena Living communities, our goal is to welcome them and their family as new members of our extended family. We work hard to accommodate what they want their schedule to be and what choice they want to make.